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Tough emissons targets set

The government must cut greenhouse gas emissions in every sector to combat climate change, a new official advisory body warned this week. But the official report from the independent Committee on Climate Change falls short of making specific recommendations for aviation and shipping.

The committee was formally established last week under the Climate Change Act. It stops short of setting specific targets because of "unresolved issues" in allocating international emissions at a national level.

The Climate Change Act has set UK greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This is the level deemed necessary as the contribution by the UK to global cuts of 50% to be achieved in the same period. The report, Building a low-carbon economy, says the power sector can be decarbonised by using carbon capture and storage technology – which could become economic within 15 years.

Renewables and nuclear power could also provide a significant contribution. But it says that building conventional coal-fi red facilities should only be considered when they can be retrofitted with carbon capture and storage equipment by the early 2020s. "The reductions can be achieved at a very low cost to our economy [estimated at between 1% and 2% of GDP]," said the committee’s chairman Lord Turner.

The government has already set a CO2 emissions reduction target of 60% by 2050. Climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the government would give the report "indepth consideration" before responding.

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