No 'offsets' says climate committee

The UK should meet targets to reduce greenhouse gases up to 2017 by action at home and not by buying "offsets", the Government's climate committee said today.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said it was possible to meet the second "carbon budget", which dictates how much the country needs to cut its emission over five years, at a low cost and by domestic action alone.

In a letter to Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, CCC chairman Lord Adair said credits, which pay for action to cut carbon elsewhere in the world, should not be bought to cover UK emissions in the second budget, which runs from 2013 to 2017.

The committee has said that a range of measures must be taken at home in the second budget period, including installing loft insulation in more than six million homes, starting work on three new nuclear power plants and putting 620,000 electric cars on the road.

There also needs to be a major increase in wind power, while two power plants which demonstrate technology which captures carbon and stores it underground should be operational by the end of the five-year period.

The committee's chief executive David Kennedy said: "Offset credits should not be relied on now to meet carbon budgets.

"It is possible to meet these budgets at low cost and through domestic action alone.

"Reducing our own emissions now is necessary if we are to be on track to the deep domestic cuts required through the 2020s, and to developing new green industries including energy efficiency and renewable energy."

The committee was set up to advise the Government on targets to reduce emissions through a series of carbon budgets, under the Climate Change Act which put into law the goal of cutting carbon by 80% by 2050.

The UK is set to meet its first carbon budget up to 2012, with emissions falling by around 9% in 2009 alone, largely as a result of the recession.

The committee has recommended that the second and third five-year budgets should be made more stringent in the face of ambitious plans for cutting emissions long term and the extra progress made because of the recession.

Even meeting these more stringent targets could be done without buying in offsets, the committee said.