MPs pile pressure on Ministers to account for UK’s outsourced emissions

MPs have stepped up the pressure on government Ministers to take responsibility for the UK’s outsourced carbon emissions, in a series of developments today.

This morning, the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published its report on carbon budgets, calling on government to review its current method of reporting emissions, and instead report on the total emissions resulting from our consumption.

The EAC state:

“We do not share the Secretary of State’s reluctance for monitoring consumption emissions. Monitoring UK emissions on a consumption basis would facilitate a more rigorous approach to controlling our contribution to climate change. The Government should request the Committee on Climate Change to review the scope for measuring emissions on such a basis and how that might be worked into the carbon budgets regime, if necessary to complement the continuing production-based reporting needed internationally.”

The EAC’s demands follow a long period of stonewalling by the Government, who have refused to date to request the Committee on Climate Change conduct a formal investigation into outsourced emissions.

Their recommendations raise the pressure on the Government to act, and coincide with a separate enquiry by their sister committee, the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC) – chaired by Conservative MP Tim Yeo – which is looking specifically at outsourced emissions and consumption-based emissions accounting. The ECC enquiry’s call for evidence closes on the 25th October.

DECC Minister Greg Barker also appeared to shift ground slightly in an answer he gave yesterday to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Conservative MP Peter Aldous, in which he stated:

“We recognise the importance of tackling outsourced emissions if we are successfully to deliver our climate change objectives…”

But he remained resolutely committed to his stock solution – rely on an international climate agreement to emerge that will tackle emissions wherever they are produced – despite the strong likelihood that the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 with no immediate successor. This in itself necessitates the Government to seriously consider alternative measures in the meantime to reduce the UK’s growing contribution to global emissions.

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