01/12/2011 15:52 GMT

Britain To 'Exceed' Target To Slash Carbon Emissions

The UK is on track to exceed targets to slash emissions by a third by 2020 - and would have met the goal even without the recession, the Government has said.

The "carbon plan", detailing progress on and future plans for reducing greenhouse gases, suggests that even without the economy contracting, green policies would be delivering a 34% emissions cut by the end of the decade.

Speaking before he travels to South Africa for the latest UN climate talks, Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said the plan showed the UK was "walking the walk" on global warming, and tackling the issue was "achievable and affordable".

And after George Osborne's autumn statement included little on the low-carbon economy and used language seen in some quarters as "anti-green", Mr Huhne insisted the Chancellor backed efforts to tackle climate change.

"He is absolutely committed to dealing with the problem of climate change, precisely because he is convinced of the science," Mr Huhne said.

The Climate Change Secretary said Mr Osborne had brought in green policies including the green investment bank and a carbon floor price and had agreed the fourth carbon budget which will slash emissions by half by the mid 2020s.

Mr Huhne said that the UK was absolutely committed to meeting its targets to cut emissions and that such a move would present big business opportunities.

So far progress has been made on "easy wins" such as replacing millions of boilers with more efficient, condensing models, which save householders around £95 on their bills a year, and insulating lofts and cavity walls.

Over the coming decade, cost-effective measures will continue, including more loft and cavity wall insulation, more efficient boilers and power stations switching from coal to gas. The Government predicts there will be no extra costs in this Parliament on making progress towards halving emissions by 2025.

But meeting the goal in the 2020s will require large scale deployment of technology such as electric vehicles and heat pumps to warm homes, renewables, nuclear power and measures to capture and store emissions from power stations.