The Government is obliged under the Climate Change Act to set a target by the end of June for cutting UK carbon emissions in the period 2028-2032.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), its official advisors, have recommended it commit to slashing emissions to 57 per cent below 1990 levels – or about a third below current levels.
It says the plan would require a radical shift toward electric cars, green energy and away from using gas for heating and cooking.
The EU has agreed a headline target to cut the combined emissions of member states by 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030, but is yet to carve up individual targets for different countries.
While the UK would be expected to be allocated cuts of greater than 40 per cent, precise levels have yet to be determined. However, the CCC has already confirmed that its proposed 57 per cent cut is “tighter than our estimate of the UK share of the EU 2030 target".
In the letter to Ms Rudd, the MPs warn: “If the UK unilaterally commits to a 57 per cent reduction before these negotiations are complete we would simply reduce the burden to be shared out among other member states.
“Our extra effort would result in no extra reduction in CO2 emissions across Europe as a whole – just a higher burden on British business and a lower burden on our competitors.”
Earlier this month a rival group of Conservative MPs wrote to David Cameron urging him to accept the steep cuts proposed by the CCC in order to give confidence to green energy investors.
The setting of the previous climate target, covering the period 2023-27, caused a huge row in the Coalition in 2011, which eventually resulted in the CCC’s advice being accepted subject to a review in 2014. The review left the target unchanged.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Member states will start negotiating later this year on their emission targets for 2030 and this Government will fight very strongly for each country to contribute its fair share to what is a collective target.
“Being in the EU makes it easier and cheaper for the UK to tackle climate change than if we were acting alone. It means we can level the playing field for the benefit of British families and businesses.”