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UK carbon budgets require greater scrutiny – MPs

(Montel) Draft proposals on how the UK government intends to lower carbon emissions in the country between 2038 and 2042 should be subject to 12 weeks of parliamentary scrutiny from next year, a parliamentary group said on Monday.

This would allow the relevant MPs to examine various elements of the draft delivery plan for the seventh carbon budget before any legislation is approved, amid concerns the UK will miss the fifth and sixth carbon budgets, the Environmental Audit Committee said in a letter to Claire Coutinho, the UK’s energy security secretary.

Currently, the legally binding target for emissions over a five-year period must be legislated before ministers present a plan to parliament setting out the policies and measures needed to reduce emissions.

“The government is not required to explain to parliament how it proposes to meet carbon budget targets until after the legislation setting the targets has been passed. This ought to change,” said Philip Dunne, MP and chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, in a statement.

Maintain public support
“MPs should have the opportunity to scrutinise robustly the policy proposals put forward to meet the government’s climate goals, and to examine whether the level the carbon budget has been set at is achievable while maintaining public support for decarbonisation.”

Carbon budgets set restrictions on the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a five-year period.

The UK has pledged to cap emissions at 1,725m tonnes from 2028-2032, or the fifth carbon budget, and at 965m tonnes from 2033-2037, the sixth carbon budget.