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DESPITE THE RHETORIC UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS HAVE NOT FALLEN

April 3, 2008 7:00 AM
In North Devon Journal

The Government's introduction of a Climate Change Bill is a welcome step forward. It provides a framework to curb our carbon emissions.

But there remain serious problems with the Bill. I want Britain to play its fair part in the international effort to limit global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius.

Despite all the rhetoric, a recent NAO report shows that UK greenhouse gas emissions - including aviation and shipping, and our emissions while travelling overseas - have not fallen since 1990.

The Government must increase energy efficiency and the use of a greater range of renewable energies.

Scientific evidence suggests that even a target of a 60% cut in emissions is too low. Both the Stern Report and a recent UN report have concluded that the UK must make cuts of at least 80% by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change.

I believe we should become a 'Zero Carbon Britain' by 2050. Amendments in the Lords, to toughen up the targets were defeated - with the Government voting against and the official Opposition abstaining.

A campaign has been launched via the social networking site Facebook calling for an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050, which you can sign up to at: http://co2cuts.notlong.com

The five year carbon budgets in the Bill are politically convenient, as the typical term of office is usually four years. They are NIMTO targets - Not in My Term of Office.

The Bill should reduce the carbon budgets to three years, and introduce 12 month targets. The Prime Minister must take primary responsibility for emissions reductions.

The Bill is too weak in a number of other areas. Aviation and shipping, and greenhouse gases other than CO2, should be included in the Bill. Equally, we must make real reductions ourselves, not just buy in 'credits' from overseas.

My party's 'Zero Carbon Britain' proposals include a Green Tax Switch, moving the tax burden from good things like work, risk and effort, to bad things like pollution. We need fairer and greener taxes, not more taxes.

Britain must reward greater energy efficiency in the home and reduce the carbon output of the household sector. We could save the average family £385 a year on energy bills.

The Bill is almost finished in the Lords and then comes to the Commons. I and my colleagues will work to ensure that it ends up strong enough to provide a planet worth living on for our children and grandchildren.