Well, they asked for it – and now they've got it. In 2007 the Government decided to go with the bright idea of a legally-binding programme for reducing its greenhouse gases step by step, and a powerful independent committee to oversee the process. Yesterday the committee, chaired by Adair Turner, came up with its recommendations, and it may have caused a few gulps in Whitehall. The targets it proposed are the toughest in the world.
Yet there is more chance of meeting those targets than there was six months ago. Then, climate change policy was located in one department, the one that looked after the environment; energy policy, the key determinant of climate policy, was located in another, the one that looked after business and industry.
In an argument about, say, new carbon-intensive coal-fired power stations, such as the controversial one proposed at Kingsnorth in Kent, the Environment Secretary (probably against it) and the Business Secretary (probably in favour) would just have to slug it out: hardly a means of making a rational decision.
Not any more. In the summer, energy and climate were brought together in one new department. The new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, must decide whether to accept Adair Turner's recommendations for targets, which include the strong suggestion that Kingsnorth should not go ahead without a guarantee that its emissions will be dealt with by carbon capture technology being developed.
Watch out for this decision. It is the hottest potato in green politics. But at least there's now a chance of it being rationally made.Reuse content