UK meets Rio targets on emissions

Britain is set to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 8 per cent between 1990 and 2000, thereby keeping its promises made at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, John Gummer, the Secretary of State for the Environment, reported yesterday. Industrialised nations committed themselves at Rio to stabilising annual emissions of carbon dioxide - the most important climate-changing pollutant - at the 1990 level by 2000. The gas is produced mainly by burning fossil fuels.

Britain is one of very few developed countries which will actually cut emissions. Others, including the United States, Canada and Australia, look set to break their promise and increase their output of carbon dioxide over the decade. Britain's success is mainly due to the drastic slump in the use of coal to generate electricity and its replacement by gas which produces much less carbon dioxide.

Mr Gummer is urging industrialised countries to commit themselves to cut emissions by between 5 and 10 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Last year, United Kingdom carbon dioxide emissions actually rose slightly, according to the latest statistics, because gas consumption rocketed by 17 per cent and oil by 2 per cent. So, while Britain does seem set to keep its international promise come 2000, the trend then is likely to be upwards.

Climate Change, UK Programme, Cm3558, HMSO. Nicholas Schoon