Is it all hot air?

An independent scientific audit of the UK’s climate change policies predicts that the government will fall well below its target of a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – which means that the country will not reach its 2020 milestone until 2050.

The report condemns government forecasts on greenhouse gas emissions as “very optimistic” and projects that the true reduction will be between 12 and 17%, making little difference to current CO2 emission levels.

Critics of the government’s record on climate change argue that despite the green-friendly rhetoric, it has failed to deliver sufficient reductions. ‘The policies are all going in the right direction and are all relatively well thought out, they just have to be enforced’, said Mark Maslin, director of University College London’s Environment Institute and one of the audit study’s authors. “In most sectors all the policies at the moment are voluntary. So basically nobody bothers.”

In the domestic energy sector, one much-trumpeted government policy is a set of new building regulations to make all new homes built after 2016 “zero carbon”. However, the UCL auditors are sceptical that this policy will deliver because of poor enforcement.

The researchers also believe domestic energy consumption will continue to rise faster than the government predicts due to demand for more energy intensive products, such as plasma televisions.

Full report from UCL’s Environment Institute.

The report was commissioned for Channel 4’s Dispatches.

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4 Responses to Is it all hot air?

  1. keithsc says:

    An article in the Guardian of 15th March by George Monbiot says that Ruth Kelly’s “planning statement on climate change banned local councils from setting higher energy efficiency standards for homes than national building regulations require. This means they are not allowed to implement Kelly’s own code fro sustainable homes..” See The Target Wreckers at,,2034175,00.html

  2. matt says:

    Implementation, implementation, implementation.

    Something this government hasn’t been very good at.

    H&S regulations are now implemented more rigourously. That’s not to say all H&S regulations are a good idea or aren’t over zealously applied to the detriment of other functions by pumped up, under quailified council officers!

    But there does need to be a similar Environment Regulations enforcement unit. Just don’t put the idea to the vote!

    To get the public on side it should not be down just to councils to implement carbon reduction measures. Measures need to be fairly and harmoniously applied across the country to be taken seriously and NOT to be used solely as revenue raising/cost saving ideas. That just pisses people off!

    The current haphazard changes by councils to rubbish collection/recycling is a classic case in point. Yes, reducing the amounts of rubbish produced could be read as a carbon reduction strategy, but it is a longer term strategy involving huge changes in consumer behaviour. The blunt instrument of moving rubbish collections to fortnightly has nothing to do with sound environmental policy. It’s an excuse to save money and people don’t like it. Their council tax bills aren’t going down after all.

  3. the Grit says:


    This is a major reason why the US did not ratify the Kyoto treaty. We would have bankrupted ourselves meeting the targets. The other big three were the exclusion of India and China, and the lack of credit for CO2 sinks. Don’t worry though, we’ll be riding in the same boat with y’all before long 😉

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    The US is already bankrupt.

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