Minister asks Climate Change Committee to review UK carbon emissions target

18 April 2018

CAFOD supporter Jason spoke to Climate Minister Claire Perry about climate change in an electric vehicle

CAFOD supporter Jason spoke to Climate Minister Claire Perry about climate change in an electric vehicle (Photo: BEIS)

Climate Minister Claire Perry has announced the government is taking the first step towards tightening the UK’s target for reducing carbon emissions.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, she revealed the request made to the Committee on Climate Change to review the UK’s emissions reduction target.

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The independent committee is tasked with advising the government under the Climate Change Act 2008. The committee found in its last report in 2016 that the government’s climate targets were not enough to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperature rises below 1.5 Celsius. This is the level necessary to prevent climate change pushing even more of the world’s poorest people into poverty.

Meeting the target would require the government to pursue what is called a "net zero emissions" goal. This would mean that the UK would be legally obliged by 2050 not to emit more carbon dioxide than is taken out of the atmosphere. 

The announcement has come into being partly due to the climate change campaign by CAFOD, our partners and our supporters.

Announcement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The minister made the announcement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is taking place in London between 16-20 April. World leaders at the summit are discussing the need to take action on climate change because of its impact on the world’s poorest people.

39 of the 53 member states in the Commonwealth are classed as “small or vulnerable states”. This means that these countries are threatened by the effects of the changing climate, such as flooding caused by sea level rises and extreme weather such as hurricanes.

Call on the World Bank to bring renewable energy to people without access to electricity

‘World’s poorest people must not pay price of our lack of ambition’

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said: 

“This is positive news and an indication that the government is serious about its obligations towards communities around the world already seeing the cost of climate change. 

“The fact that the minister has made this announcement during CHOGM, where many of the countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change are represented, suggests that the UK is prepared to act on its responsibility. 

“The passage of the Climate Change Act into law in 2008 was a remarkable example of UK climate leadership. Ten years on, it’s important that the UK continues to show it can lead the world with the setting of a zero net emissions target. 

“The science is clear, the direction is set under Paris and the voices of those most affected must be heard. We need to commit to zero net emissions to make sure that the world’s poorest people do not pay the price of our lack of ambition and courage.” 

Faith leaders’ climate letter to Commonwealth heads of government

The announcement followed a letter, published in The Daily Telegraph, in which faith leaders called for Commonwealth leaders “to turn words into action” on climate change. The religious leaders – including cardinals, archbishops, church moderators and rabbis – noted that “Commonwealth citizens, especially the poorest, struggle to thrive amidst our changing climate.”

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt was asked about the letter by Patrick Grady MP in Parliament. He urged the government to show leadership in achieving the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperature rises below 1.5 Celsius.

You've got the Power

CAFOD campaigners have played a huge part in making the world a better place. Our campaigns on energy and climate have seen a tremendous response:

With over 30,000 people speaking up loud and clear to the World Bank and to the UK government on local, renewable energy for poor communities.

9,000 passionate people turning up at Parliament to make a stand at the climate lobby in 2015. 

And 40,000 people in the UK adding their names to a global Catholic petition calling for action at the Paris climate change talks.

Your voice makes a difference. Our leaders are starting to respond. Let's continue to connect the poor and the powerful by putting our faith into action. 

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