The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has not been successful in an attempt to weaken measures to tackle global warming.

The chancellor had sought changes to Britain’s “fourth carbon budget”, which sets a limit on greenhouse gas emissions through the 2020s, after claims it would make British businesses less competitive than EU rivals.

The Financial Times reports that the government is set to announce there will be no change to the targets, which were agreed three years ago after a bitter fight between the Tories and their Liberal Democrat governing partners.

The FT says the carbon budget has been the subject of a war of attrition between Osborne and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary.

The budget effectively commits the UK to a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gases, compared with 1990 levels, by 2025.
Osborne wanted to alter the target because he feared it could make it harder to achieve his plans for up to 40 new gas-fired power stations to come onstream over the next 15 years. He had argued Britain should not be “further ahead of our partners in Europe” when it came to green energy.

But Davey had sought to keep the carbon budget – introduced by his predecessor Chris Huhne – untouched. He had been supported by the Committee on Climate Change, the statutory group set up to advise the government under the 2008 Climate Change Act.

The CCC repeatedly insisted there was no economic or legal reason to change the policy and warned that changing the carbon budget could damage investor confidence in low-carbon energy generation.

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