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Climate Change: Greenhouse Gases

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 2 July 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect their official scientific advisers to measure the effects of changes in the United States and other major countries' policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [HL4165]

We closely follow the impact of policy announcements by the United States and other major countries on plans to mitigate their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with their legal obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Under the convention, parties are required periodically to report their climate policies and emissions inventories to the UNFCCC secretariat. We take a strong interest in these reports, and use the data presented to inform our understanding of countries' progress in reducing emissions through existing policies, and the further actions that will be required from countries in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Government are also monitoring unilateral announcements by major countries on the mitigation actions that they expect to undertake in future. Current negotiations on the overall shape of a future international climate change agreement foresee the adoption at Copenhagen later this year of new, improved international rules for measuring, reporting and verifying the impact of countries' emissions reduction policies.

We also actively monitor the longer term impact of mitigation actions on global concentrations of carbon dioxide and other GHGs in the atmosphere, including through research conducted by the Meteorological Office Hadley Centre. However, we would expect a lag of several years between any significant changes in greenhouse gas emissions and the measurable atmospheric effects that would result from this, due to inertia in the global climate system.