James Forsyth James Forsyth

The battle over the 4th carbon budget

At the weekend, it appeared that Chris Huhne had won his battle with Vince Cable and George Osborne over whether or not the government should sign up to the 4th carbon budget. This budget covers 2023 to 2027 and is all part of a plan to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared to the level in 1990; they have currently been reduced by 26.5 percent from the 1990 level.

But it now appears that the greens in government might have been premature in declaring victory. First, the next set of cuts in UK carbon emissions is dependent on the European Union agreeing to embark on an equally significant emissions cut by early 2014. If this does not happen, then the UK carbon budget will default to the EU average. In other words, Britain won’t cut by more than the rest of the European Union. This is a big shift away from the idea that Britain should ‘lead’ on climate change regardless of what other countries do.

I’m also hearing that there’ll be some support announced tomorrow for energy intensive industries.

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