Select Committee on Environmental Audit Second Report


The Environmental Audit Committee has agreed to the following Report:—



  1. The Environmental Audit Committee published its Fourth Report, on Climate Change and the UK emission reduction targets and audit arrangements, on 29 July 1998 in the last Session of Parliament.[1] The Government's response to that report appears as Appendix I to this Report.[2]

2. In the light of developments at home and in international negotiations on the detail of the Kyoto Protocol, at Buenos Aires, the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change, the Committee sought oral evidence from the Rt Hon Michael Meacher, MP, Minister for the Environment. This report welcomes the Government's response to our Fourth Report, 1997-98, and draws out key points in the context of these developments in the UK, the EU and in international negotiations.

3. On 26 October 1998 the Government published UK Climate Change Programme, a consultation paper, hailing it as a demonstration of how the UK was setting the pace in international discussions and taking forward their commitment to action at home.[3] The consultation paper set out revised projections of emissions for greenhouse gases for 2010 based on the latest data and modelling and identified a range of possible measures to reduce emissions for each of the main sectors of the British economy. The Government's intention was for the consultation paper to initiate a national debate on how best to meet the 12 ½ per cent reduction required of the UK within the legally binding target for the EU joint agreement under the Kyoto Protocol; and to move towards the UK Government's domestic goal of achieving a reduction of 20 per cent of CO2 emissions. The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into the Government's programme.[4]

4. International negotiations on the detail of the Kyoto Protocol resumed at the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change (COP 4) in Buenos Aires on 1-14 November 1998. The result of COP 4 was a two year action plan, establishing deadlines for taking forward the negotiations for example through working groups, submissions and the preparation of recommendations to be considered at COPs 5 and 6 in 1999 and 2000 and COPMOP1 (the first meeting of the Conference of Parties following the ratification of the Protocol, which would count as the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol).[5] Environmental groups expressed disappointment with this outcome[6], while the UN, EU and UK Government all praised the agreements reached.[7] The latter stressed that they had maintained the political momentum on the Protocol and described COP 4 as "a significant success"[8] and "a big step forward so that climate change policy can be put into practice"[9].

5. We are grateful for the advice provided to the Committee on this subject by Mr Derek Osborn CB, Chairman of the European Environment Agency.

1   Fourth Report from the Environmental Audit Committee, 1997-98, HC 899 Back

2   The Government's response sets out the relevant conclusions and recommendations extracted from our Fourth Report, 1997-98 and comments on each. References are to the original paragraph numbers from that Report. Back

3   UK Climate Change Programme: Consultation Paper, and DETR. News Release 891 26 October 1998 Back

4   Environment, Transport and the Regions Select Committee, Press Release 82, 1997- 98 Back

5   United Nations decisions, available through the website Back

6   Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Press Releases 14 November 1998; Back

7   UNFCCC/CCNUCC, European Commission and DETR. Press Releases 14 November 1998  Back

8   Op. Cit. Back

9   DETR News Release 967, 14 November 1998 Back

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Prepared 12 February 1999