Government 'ineffective' on emissions cuts

The Government has been criticised for its 'ineffective' attempts to cut climate change gases as figures published showed carbon emissions dropped by just 0.1 per cent last year

The final statistics for 2006 revealed a drop of 0.5 per cent for overall greenhouse gases, while CO2 - which makes up 85 per cent of the UK's emissions - had fallen by 0.1 per cent on 2005.

The figures were slightly better than expected after provisional numbers published last March predicted a rise in CO2 levels. The improved numbers followed a revision of energy statistics which showed more gas and less coal was being used than estimated.

But environmental campaigners said the figures did not tell the full story because they did not include emissions from international aviation - which continue to rise. And a revision of data used in compiling the figures led to an increase in the 2005 figures for CO2 and greenhouse gases.

The government pointed to a 2.9 per cent increase in the economy in 2006 as evidence the UK was breaking the historic link between economic growth and rising emissions. But despite Labour's commitment to the environment - most recently seen in the upcoming Climate Change Bill which aims to reduce CO2 output by at least 60 per cent by 2050 - carbon emissions are still higher than when the government came to power in 1997.

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Richard Dyer said: "The latest government figures are a stark reminder of how ineffective the government has been at tackling the UK's carbon dioxide emissions. Delivering a strong climate change law is more important then ever. Yet the government plans to leave the UK's share of international aviation emissions out of its proposed climate change law.

"We can't let the government get away with pretending these emissions from aviation do not exist. They need to give the public the full story about the UK's emissions."

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the rising emissions from international aviation made it clear flights arriving and departing from EU airports needed to be included in the European emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) by 2012.

Image: Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Richard Dyer

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