Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Environmental Audit Committee Report Issued

For anyone with sufficient time on their hands to wade through all 216 pages, including all the oral evidence given, the Seventh Report of Session 2006–07 from the Environmental Audit Committee was published yesterday.

Entitled "Beyond Stern: From the Climate Change Programme Review to the Draft Climate Change Bill", it is a huge tome of information covering every issue you can shake a stick at. Sorry but I personally could not possibly find the time to go through in depth, so a few choice excerpts from a speed read skim are all that I can manage for now.

"Climate change is on a different scale from any other political challenge. Its potential effects could be both physically and economically devastating."

Can't see anyone arguing with that.

"The science linking 550ppmv to 2°C has moved on:
550ppmv CO2 has ~88% chance of exceeding 2°C
450ppmv CO2 has ~70% chance of exceeding 2°C
(% probabilities from Meinshausen, 2007)"

"It is clear to us that the Government will have to introduce more radical policies into its Climate Change Programme very soon if it is to meet even the 2020 target as currently set."

"The Government’s policy towards the UK’s 2050 target is clearly incoherent. The Government remains committed to limiting global warming to a rise of 2oC; but it also acknowledges that, according to recent scientific research, a cut in UK emissions of 60% by 2050 is now very unlikely to be consistent with delivering this goal."

I.e. The targets are NOT going to be met with the current plans.

"We recommend that the Government should admit the uncertainty range of its emissions projections. It should also regularly publish a review of its previous projections, comparing them against outturn data and latest projections, and analyse what it got right, what it got wrong, why it did so, and what lessons it has learned."

So that'll be something radical, a government that might have to admit that it got things wrong! Maybe if there's an X in the month!

All in all it doesn't look too good. Science is refining the temperature predictions and suggesting that less CO2 may well produce the 2C effect, and although the UK's targets were some of the most stringent on the planet, they are already inadequate and woefully behind schedule.

Addendum: 3/8/2008
But, of course, any criticism was bound to be rapidly and effectively deflected by the government. Apparently ignoring the key points made, Hilary Benn in The Guardian, insists that the Climate Change Bill is a world's first, and "ambitious by any standard and consistent with our leading position internationally".

Are the facts that: a) its probably not enough, and b) its way behind schedule already, not considered important?

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