The government of the United Kingdom has agreed to include the aviation and shipping sectors in its ambitious climate change Bill, a law that aims to set targets to cut emissions of greenhouse-gases.
The Bill – due to become law in November 2008 – was amended to take into account emissions from aircraft and ships following a campaign by environmentalists as well as lawmakers, including from the ruling party.
The Bill, which commits the country to reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by 2050, makes Britain the first nation to agree on legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
The climate change Bill will compel all companies in the United Kingdom to reveal levels of pollution, which will, in turn, enable anti-pollution campaigners to “name and shame” the worst offenders.
The amended Bill also will require all companies in Britain to make public their greenhouse-gas emissions by the year 2012.
During debate on the Bill, Joan Ruddock, Britain’s Minister for Climate Change, told lawmakers that the international aviation and shipping industry must have to take action to reduce climate change.
“The measure,” explained Joan Ruddock, “will ensure that business goes green. This will allow companies to demonstrate their green credentials and provide transparency for investors and consumers. It aims to stimulate businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and work towards a productive low-carbon future.”
The amendment to the British climate change legislation tabled by ministers will require the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the British government’s official climate change advisers, to take emissions from planes and tankers into account when it calculates carbon budgets, after over 50 MPs from the Labour Party demanded that the legislation be changed.
The British government had initially opposed demands to include the transport sectors from the ambit of the Bill aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse-gases because of what it described as “difficulties in splitting cross-border emissions between countries.”
The environmental group Friends of the Earth has said that the United Kingdom’s share of emissions from international shipping and aviation accounted for 7.6% of the nation’s total emissions of carbon dioxide in 2006.
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper quoted Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, as commending on the new pro-environment legislation: “We welcome the government’s amendment to take account of emissions from international aviation and shipping in the 80% greenhouse-gas reduction target. The law should also mean that the government has to re-think projects, such as airport expansion, that will lead to a big increase in greenhouse-gas emissions. Investing in low-carbon alternatives is the best way to deliver on the law and move Britain out of recession and into a greener more prosperous future.”
A week ago, member-states of the European Union (EU) had formally approved a proposal to include aviation in the EU’s own emission trading scheme, starting from 2012. However, the shipping industry is still excluded.
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