Is protecting UK competitiveness as important as pushing further and faster with climate policies?

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The Environmental Audit Committee has today published a report saying that the Government's “schizophrenic attitude” to climate policy was undermining confidence and long term certainty.

The report comes just a week after the Chancellor, George Osborne, speech at the Conservative party conference, in which he said that the UK should cut “carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe”.

Both statements revolve around the decision by the Government to review the fourth carbon budget in 2014. Although the report rightly acknowledges the very serious threat to economic growth that climate change policy could have on the UK manufacturing sector, the committee insists that the recommended carbon budgets, should be regarded as an absolute minimum.

But is there merit in a review the carbon budget targets in 2014? Any target adopted must reflect what is achievable at a cost which can be sustained. Surely damaging the UK economy without achieving significant global GHG reductions is not the way forward. Indeed in his speech at the party conference the Chancellor aid that “a decade of environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies” and that the UK is “not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”.

What is needed from the UK is to provide a leadership role, one that shows that decarbonising and growing the economy go hand in hand. We need policy decisions that are based on a robust and agreed evidence base. It can be argued that policy making without the full evidence has led to the current policy landscape that is often confused, conflicting and costly.

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Director of EU Affairs

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