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Brown reveals road pricing, emissions plans

Queen: 'One will be charging to use one's Highways'

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The UK will be the first country in the world to have legally binding emissions targets under the Climate Change Bill announced today in the Queen's Speech.

The bill sets out plans to reduce carbon emissions in the UK by 60 per cent by 2050. It also has an interim target of at least 26 per cent by 2020, and will allow five-year carbon budgets.

Writing ahead of the Queen's Speech, Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "The government must strengthen its proposed legislation if it is to be truly effective and deliver the scale of action that scientists are now calling for."

He argues that there should be annual milestones in the bill; that the target should be an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, not 60 per cent; and that the UK's international aviation and shipping emissions should also be included in the target from the outset.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already indicated that the targets will be under review, and could be toughened if it is deemed necessary.

The Queen also announced plans to allow local authorities to develop local road pricing schemes, as part of the Local Transport Bill's bid to "tackle congestion and improve public transport". The government says that, if left unchecked, there will be a 22 per cent increase in congestion by 2015.

Alongisde powers for local authorities to boost bus services and engage in more "coherent planning" on transport, the bill will update "existing legal powers so that, where local areas wish to develop proposals for local road pricing schemes, they have the freedom and flexibility to do so in a way that best meets local needs."

The third prong of the environmental attack is the Energy Bill, which the government says will provide incentives for renewable energy sources. It also sets cash aside for decommissioning nuclear power stations, and dealing with their waste, in the event of the government giving the go ahead to private companies to invest in new plants.

This legislation also "strengthens" the government's commitment to deriving much of the country's energy requirement from renewable sources, according to reports.

However, earlier this month, a leaked report showed that the government regards its commitments to EU targets as little more than fantasy. It suggested meeting the target was too expensive and practically difficult.

Yesterday, the government announced an agency to manage the country's commitment to having bio fuels account for five per cent of all fuel sold in the UK by 2010.

The government estimates that this will provide carbon savings of between 2.6 million and three million tonnes of CO2 every year. ®

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