The Government has been accused of using the economic downturn to gain green plaudits after new figures showed the recession has led to record cuts in greenhouse gases.
By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:30AM GMT 26 Mar 2010
Gordon Brown's Government has been accused of using the economic downturn to gain green plaudits after new figures showed the recession has led to record cuts in greenhouse gases Photo: REUTERS
Since records began in 1990 levels of pollution have been reducing at an annual rate of a few percentage points.
But in 2009 the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases fell by 8.6 per cent, largely due to the contraction in industry caused by the recession.
Joan Ruddock, the Energy and Climate Change minister, said every sector, including homeowners, have contributed to the fall in pollution.
"The significant reduction in emissions would no doubt have been impacted by the recent economic circumstances. However, we should still recognise the good progress we are making towards meeting our targets, and should not underestimate the effort made so far by government, industry, business and homeowners alike," she said.
But Greg Clark, the Tory energy spokesman, said most of the fall was because of the recession.
“It is disappointing that it took the longest and deepest recession since World War II for Labour to achieve any noticeable fall in UK carbon emissions," he said.
“Before Gordon Brown’s recession hit, carbon emissions had fallen by just 1.4 per cent under Labour. Ministers should be embarrassed that their green claims are based on our broken economy.”
Meanwhile, Lord Stern has said the world is on course to keep global temperature rise below 2C (3.6F).
He said the targets submitted by countries in Copenhagen would result in global annual emissions of about 48 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2020, if countries deliver "high intention" reductions.
This would fall short of a "climate responsible" target of 44 billion tonnes, but would still be consistent with a 2C goal if more difficult and costly annual reductions of at least 4 per cent per year could be achieved for the decades after 2020.