London: The British government on Wednesday pledged to reduce carbon emissions by about 50 per cent by 2025 from benchmark emission levels in 1990.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told Parliament that UK would cut the country’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent, part of its legally mandated commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050.

Carbon dioxide gas spewed into the atmosphere by cars, planes, factories, and power plants is a major driver of man-made climate change, which scientists say is already leading to global warming and melting ice caps.

Huhne sought to cast the dramatic cuts as a massive boost to the country's green technology companies, telling parliamentarians he was putting Britain "at the leading edge of the global low-carbon revolution."

Steel makers sceptical

But Britain's energy-intensive industries, such as steel manufacturers, are warning that the country risks making itself uncompetitive unless other European countries follow its lead.

They've pressured the government to put in an escape clause which allows for the target to be scrapped as soon as 2014 if Britain's European partners fail to implement their own carbon cuts.

David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, made the same point in separate comments to lawmakers on Wednesday.

"It doesn't actually help climate change if you simply drive an energy intensive industry to locate in Poland rather than Britain," Cameron told lawmakers.

"We believe that Europe should follow our lead and go for a 30 per cent reduction." But, the prime minister added, Europe has yet to make the same commitment "so there is a
review clause in what is being announced in 2014 to make sure that if they are not on that pathway, then we shouldn't put ourselves on it too."

800 million tons of emission

Britain emitted nearly 800 million tons of greenhouse gases in 1990, but although the number has fallen significantly in the past two decades, environmental activists say more must be done and faster.

Legislation passed in 2008 made the goal of implementing an 80 per cent cut by 2050 legally binding.

Britain is still trying to emerge from a damaging recession, and many business leaders have argued for a reprieve.

(Agencies)