The government’s record in cutting its own emissions of planet-warming gases was “extremely poor”, a cross-party panel of politicians said on Monday.
“Central Government must demonstrate leadership by making rapid progress,” the report said, finding that a major problem was rising electricity consumption from increasing use of computers.
The report cited figures from the independent Sustainable Development Commission showing that the government was set to miss its target to cut carbon emissions by 12.5 percent by 2011 on 2000 levels.
As a result, the government’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2012 – meaning it produced no net carbon emissions – would rely heavily on buying carbon offsets, where a buyer pays someone else to cut emissions on their behalf, it said.
“In meeting this (carbon neutral) target from 2012 onwards it is important the Government does as much as possible to reduce its own emissions, rather than simply relying on buying carbon offsets,” it said.
Britain often hails itself as a leader on fighting climate change and environmental group WWF earlier this month ranked it top among the group of eight leading industrialised economies, pointing for example to legislation to curb greenhouse gases.
But the government has come under recent pressure for example over plans to expand Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport, and its endorsement of new coal plants and nuclear reactors.
The government’s record on generating its own electricity from renewable sources was “extremely disappointing”, said the report chaired by Tim Yeo, a politician from the opposition conservative party.
The government was buying “green” electricity generated by utilities from renewable sources such as wind power, but this was only clean energy which such power producers had to generate anyway under their environmental obligations.
The central government accounts for about 0.4 percent of Britain’s total emissions of the commonest manmade greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The Environmental Audit Committee comprises 16 Members of Parliament from all three main political parties.
(Reporting by Gerard Wynn; Editing by Charles Dick)
14 July 2008
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