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Transport Minister urges Government to reject the advice of its climate advisers, reports Guardian

12th May, 2011

The transport minister Phillip Hammond is opposing the climate measures recommended by the government’s expert advisers, according to the Guardian. The Committee on Climate Change was set up under the 2008 Climate Act to act as an independent body advising Government on how to meet the legally binding target to cut the UK’s emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. But the Cabinet is currently divided over whether to approve the latest set of interim targets recommended by the Committee, reports the newspaper.

Those supporting the CCC’s advice include energy minister Chris Huhne and foreign secretary William Hague, who wrote in a leaked letter: “In order to retain public support for our climate policy at home we need to be able to point to similar effort abroad. If our domestic resolve is seen to be weakening, we will lose traction elsewhere.” Business Secretary Vince Cable, however, has argued that meeting the target could harm British businesses in the short term. George Osborne, the chancellor, is also said be be opposed to the target.

This would be the first time that the Government had rejected a recommendation from the Committee and both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, when in opposition, argued in favour of more stringent climate targets being set out in the Climate Act. Many scientists believe that even tougher measures are required to avoid dangerous climate change. In 2006 economist Sir Nicholas Stern conducted a seminal paper arguing that the cost of failing to tackle climate change would, in the long term, far outweigh the cost of tackling it in the short to medium term. Lord Turner, chairman of both the Committee on Climate Change and of the Financial Services Authority, has now met with cabinet members to try to heal the rift over his committee’s advice.

In December 2009 the CCC reported to Government that it would not be possible to meet the climate target for aviation while expanding airports at the rate forecast by the most recent aviation white paper. AEF believes that an aviation-specific target is crucial to ensure that reductions achieved in other sectors are not wiped out by increases in emissions from airlines. The Government is due to respond to the CCC’s aviation report in the coming months.