Three weeks after I shared the latest understanding about the impacts of climate change on birds (here), I was delighted to hear today's news that the Government will be sticking to its carbon targets for the 2020s. This is an important decision from the Coalition and one that I warmly welcome.

Many of you will remember the Climate Change Act, passed with cross-party consensus in 2008, putting the UK at the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change. The Act established a system of five-yearly budgets that are meant to ensure we are on the trajectory of delivering a reduction in emissions of at least 80% by 2050. The fourth carbon budget, which covers the period 2022-27, was set by the Coalition in 2011 and it effectively committed the UK to reducing its emissions by half by the mid-2020s. This was in line with the science and we welcomed it at the time, but there was one problem - the Treasury insisted on a review in 2014, creating a shadow of uncertainty that has held back the low carbon transition ever since.

Today’s announcement lifts that shadow.  It establishes a clear and ambitious trajectory and, critically, it puts the UK back in a leadership position just as the negotiations in the EU and at the UN over a global deal on climate change are heating up.

Alone, an ambitious fourth carbon budget is an important achievement for the Coalition, but if David Cameron uses this as a platform for international leadership on climate action over the remainder of his term then it could be much more.  Securing an ambitious deal to cut emissions in the EU and helping put the world on track to a global deal on climate change by the end of 2015 would be a legacy that is felt by future generations, here and across the world.

His first opportunity to do this will be at the UN Climate Leaders Summit in New York this September. I hope Mr Cameron will confirm his attendance as soon as possible, particularly as it would encourage other world leaders that they should do the same.

Today also sends a powerful signal to those who have opposed action on climate change, and is a reminder of the importance that the cross-party consensus that delivered the Climate Change Act is maintained. Our climate targets are about doing our bit for the future of our planet and the people and wildlife we share it with - and this is just too important to for politicians to fall out over.

This brings me to our new Climate Coalition campaign that the RSPB launched this week.  "For the love of" is all about  reminding ourselves and politicians why all of this is so important in the first place.  

Take a look and share what you love that is affected by climate change.  

I’ll be reviewing some of the best wildlife uploads on this blog soon – so please do join in!

In the meantime, here's my contribution (first shared in April here)

For the love of...

...wildlife (especially fabulous birds like the kittiwake and golden plover)

...places (especially the Somerset Levels and my family's hut on the eroding cliff in Northumberland) and

...people (especially my family but also the Arsenal football team even when they fail to meet expectations - that's Arsenal, by the way, not the family)

Let's tackle climate change.

  • Thanks, redkite, as ever for your support.  You are, without doubt, the most reliable commentator on this blog! Hope Otmoor is having a great summer...

  • That is excellent news. It is important for two reasons firstly and perhaps more obviously, because the UK will be still "sticking" to the targets which reflect the required mitigation set out by the scientific evidence. Secondly and just as importantly it sets an example to other countries and to the EU, for them to follow suit. While the UK's carbon emiisions are probably not very large in terms of total global carbon emiisions and the USA and China in particular, by taking this decision the UK is providing a lead to other countries which hopefully they will feel they should follow.