UK pledges to cut carbon emissions in half by 2025

By the Associated Press | May 17, 2011 | 12:45 PM EDT

LONDON (AP) — The British government on Tuesday pledged to cut the country's carbon emissions in half by 2025 — an ambitious target which could be watered down if other European countries fail to slash their emissions accordingly.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told Parliament that Britain would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by about 50 percent from benchmark emission levels in 1990, a step that is part of a longer-term legal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, said the 2025 cut would "position the U.K. as a leading player in the global low-carbon economy, creating significant new industries and jobs."

But industry representatives have warned that slashing carbon dioxide emissions from transport, industry and energy generation could limit economic competitiveness, and the issue has split Cameron's Cabinet, which is drawn from his right-leaning Conservative Party and the traditionally green-conscious Liberal Democrats, of which Huhne is a senior member.

Although the emissions target is an ambitious one, it could be scaled back within less than three years, if Britain decides that other European countries aren't doing enough to meet their own pollution-cutting pledges.