UK sets first “carbon budget”

The world’s first “carbon budget” formed the centrepiece of the United Kingdom’s “green jobs” strategy, as the chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling, committed the country to the most ambitious climate-change prevention targets of any developed country, the Financial Times reported. But critics said the treasury chief had failed to ensure there was enough assistance for businesses to meet the targets.


Under the carbon budget, the United Kingdom will have to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 34% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. That overall target, which is legally binding, exceeds the European Union’s pledge to cut emissions by 20% and the US commitment to return to 1990 levels by 2020. The UK figure includes two shorter-term targets: a 22% reduction by 2012 and a 28% cut by 2017.

In his budget address on Wednesday, Darling promised “thousands of high-tech businesses and hundreds of thousands of high-skilled jobs”. He said: “These budgets give industry the certainty needed to develop and use low-carbon technology – cutting emissions, creating new businesses and jobs.”

Key details have not been revealed yet, however, including how the emissions targets will affect government policy. While some hailed the carbon budgets as the most ambitious in the world, the newspaper noted that “the target is less stretching than it may first appear”. The 34% cuts, it said, are measured against 1990 levels, when the United Kingdom was much more dependent on coal.

The chancellor also announced additional funding for the offshore wind industry, low-carbon energy, green manufacturing and other efforts. But some businesses and environmentalists said he had not been bold enough or generous enough with his green measures, totaling US$2 billion.

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