Brown pledges to banish the plastic bag from Britain

Gordon Brown announced he was backing the campaign to eliminate wasteful plastic bags in a wide-ranging speech setting ambitious climate-change targets for Britain.

The Prime Minister said he was calling a forum of supermarkets, the British Retail Consortium and other groups urgently to assess how they could end the use of disposable bags.

Speaking two weeks before the Bali conference on climate change, which he said would start two years of hard bargaining over cuts in carbon, Mr Brown warned that rich countries, including the US and Britain, may have to increase their targets for cuts in emissions to 80 per cent.

Mr Brown surprised eco-campaigners by announcing that the targets could mean Britain would have to supply 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and wave power by 2020. There has been scepticism among Greenpeace leaders that these will not be met unless a dramatic investment in renewables is made.

Mr Brown said Britain would plan for more wind farms, and wave and tidal schemes pending the expected go-ahead for more nuclear power stations in the new year.

The Prime Minister told a conference held by the WWF charity in London that he was asking a new independent UK climate- change committee whether Britain should increase its statutory commitment to reduce carbon emissions from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, and to include aviation emissions for the first time.

The Climate Change Bill before Parliament will set a target to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. But Mr Brown warned that Britain and other governments, including the Bush administration, may have to go further. He said they needed to match the urgency highlighted by the International Energy Agency that "business as usual" would lead to increases in carbon emissions of 60 per cent. "Developed countries may have to reduce their emissions by up to 80 per cent. We will put this evidence to the committee on climate change and ask it to advise us ... whether our own domestic target should be tightened up to 80 per cent."

The independent committee will be asked to examine "whether and how international aviation emissions could be included in the UK's carbon budgets ".

On cars, the Prime Minister said a report by Professor Julia King confirmed new technology could halve emissions by 2030. The EU was aiming to introduce a mandatory efficiency standard of 130g per kilometre for carbon emissions for cars by 2012 but Mr Brown said Britain would press for a second ambitious EU target of 100g per kilometre by 2020.

The climate change challenge facing the world, he said, required a fourth technological revolution as great as the invention of the steam engine, the internal combustion engine and the microprocessor.

His speech was praised by environmental groups for "getting serious" about climate change. But critics said the Government was likely to fail to meet Labour's own 2010 policy goal for a 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions. Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said yesterday it was likely to hit 16 per cent.

Simon Retallack, head of climate change for the IPPR think- tank, said: "The Prime Minister needs to take the serious action needed to achieve it and ensure that a commitment to tackling climate change is at the heart of all government departments."

Greenpeace warned: "There will need to be a house-clearing in some Whitehall departments, where too many officials have blocked progress on renewables and energy efficiency for too long."

The Tory environment spokesman, Peter Ainsworth, said: "Gordon Brown's record on the environment so far has consisted of missing targets, then scrapping them, then cutting the budgets that deal with them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum