International development agency Christian Aid has accused the British government of short-sightedness after the world’s first Climate Change Bill was published containing targets widely condemned as inadequate.
Christian Aid’s senior UK political adviser, Eliot Whittington, said: "The Climate Change Bill is a milestone in the fight against climate change, which we applaud, but it is nonsensical to push through legislation that is based around an out of date target."
"The UK needs a clear target to cut its domestic emissions by at least 80% by 2050, and it needs it now", said the Christian Aid spokesperson.
Whittington declared: "This is what the science says, and this is what is needed to show other countries that the UK is serious about tackling climate change."
The bill currently imposes a legal duty on the government to cut emissions by 60% by 2050. Ministers have indicated that the target will be reviewed but only after the bill has been enacted.
Next month (December 2007), UK environment secretary Hilary Benn is due to attend international negotiations on cutting global emissions.
Christian Aid has called on the UK as the first country to set a long-term target on emissions to ensure this target is adequate before it attends this summit.
Whittington said: "Poor people from around the world are feeling the real impacts of climate change – changing weather patterns undermine their ways of life while increased disasters threaten their lives."
"The UK has had huge benefit from fossil-fuel based energy, and we should be leading efforts to shift to a low-carbon economy, not lagging behind the science," he commented.