Michael Gove gives no commitment to MSPs on UK emissions target date

Written by Peter Urpeth on 15 May 2019 in News

UK Government statement on greenhouse gas emissions targets will come from another department, but Heathrow expansion plan set to continue

Image credit: PA Images

The UK Government is currently unable to commit to the Committee on Climate Change’s proposed 2050 target for net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, Michael Gove has told MSPs.

The Scottish Government recently agreed to back CCC recommendations to target net zero emissions north of the border by 2045.

But appearing in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Gove said he was unable to commit to CCC recommendations for the UK, which target net-zero emissions by 2050.

Taking questions from Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “I’m afraid I can’t make that announcement today. One of things about the UK government structure is that, in the same way as the Scottish Government has over-lapping responsibilities but also divisions over departments, there are similar shared responsibilities between my department and Greg Clark’s department in energy and industrial strategy, and Greg’s is the lead department when it comes to responding to those recommendations.”

Ruskell then asked if the UK Government, like its Holyrood counterpart, was going to review all areas of policy as part of efforts to meet its climate change targets, with Gove suggesting the UK would examine a wide range of government policies including how and where houses are built, to land use and decarbonising “energy intensive parts of the economy”.

Pressed on whether any areas of policy, such as the expansion of Heathrow airport and sales of petrol and diesel cars were “off limits”, the Environment Secretary said the Scottish Government “recognised the need to review airport capacity in the south east of England”, and that the development was being taken forward in a way that is “sensitive to climate change but also to air quality”.

Gove also stated that the UK Government was one of the first to commit to ending the sale of internal combustion engines by 2040, adding: “All of these targets need to be kept under review. We shouldn’t have arbitrary chopping and changing of policies but what we should do is to set ambitious and achievable target and then, when we are on course to meet that, then you can make the target a bit more ambitious thereafter.

“I’m not saying that we will change the policy, but I am saying that it is not something we regard as the very limit of our ambition. We are making progress and we can secure consent for a higher level of ambition then that is something that we will keep under review."

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