16 March 1998

The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP

President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

The Government shares your concerns on the need to protect the environment from the threat of global warming, not just for the here and now but for the sake of future generations. The Government contributed to the successful conclusion of a protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which was agreed in Kyoto in December 1997. The protocol contains greenhouse gas reduction targets for the developed world for the period 2008-2012 giving an overall cut of 5.2%. The target for the European Union and also for the UK is to reduce emissions by -8%. Under the current UK Presidency of the EU it is intended to agree EU burden sharing arrangements of the -8% target. There is also expected to be some EU agreement on common and co-ordinated policies and measures.

Once the EU burden sharing has been agreed, we shall consult later this year on possible policies and measures for meeting our legally-binding commitment and moving towards our Manifesto aim of a 20% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010.

Among the options we are looking at in trying to achieve these goals are the feasibility of increasing the contribution of renewable sources of energy to 10% of our electricity needs by 2010, and significantly increasing our use of Combined Heat and Power technology; but the full range of policies and measures towards achieving the target has still to be determined as mentioned above. Certainly it will involve changes in the way we perceive and use energy.

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