The government's climate change strategy has come under concerted attack this week with political rivals, a cross party group of MPs, and the renewable energy industry accusing it of wavering on its proposed climate change bill and failing to adequately support renewable energy technologies.
The cross party Environmental Audit Committee yesterday published its policy appraisal report claiming that the government's proposed target of slashing carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050, which is to be included in the climate change bill, may have to be strengthened in the wake of a series of scientific reports claiming that the rate of global warming is accelerating.
The report comes a week after it emerged the climate change bill is unlikely to make it into law until next year. Green campaigners had expected that a full bill would be included in this parliamentary session, but the government recently said that when it is published later this month the bill will only be in draft form.
The delay to the bill, which would legally enshrine targets for carbon emission reductions, gives further breathing space to UK businesses, which have been expecting to see a range of new emission cutting regulations as a result of the new law.
Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary, Chris Huhne, slammed the delay claiming that it was typical of the government's inability to push through environmental legislation.
"[Environment secretary] David Miliband promised a Climate Change Bill this year, and even postponed the key Marine Bill in order to make Parliamentary time for it," he said. "Now the Government has announced that we will have neither the Climate change Bill nor the Marine Bill this year. This is not just a climb-down but a total shambles."
Meanwhile, the renewable energy industry yesterday labeled the government's home renewable energy subsidy scheme a "farce" after the latest round of grants ran out in less than 90 minutes.
The low carbon buildings programme has come under consistent criticism for failing to meet public demand for grants to support the installation of home renewable energy technology like solar panels and wind turbines. The DTI had hoped to minimise the problem by dividing the £12.5m fund into monthly chunks, but such is the demand for the subsidy that yesterday the £500,000 of grants had run out by 10:15am – 75 minutes after the lines opened.
The Solar Trade Association (STA) said the government was guilty of failing to back up its pro-renewable energy rhetoric with properly funded schemes. It added that there was a stark contrast with the situation in Germany where long term funding programmes have resulted in a small scale renewable energy industry twenty times the size of that in the UK.
"Householders are totally fed up," said David Matthews, national executive officer of the STA. "They want to take action on global warming issues and want to work with Government on climate change. However, although Government is providing plenty of spin through the Stern Report and international climate change leadership, it is currently providing very limited support on the home front."
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