Monday 30 October 2006

Climate Change Reports are Welcome but Action is Needed

The Stern report published today is a welcome step in getting the Government to take the issue of climate change seriously. After nine years the Government seems to be catching up with the mounting anxiety within society about the threat of climate change to our planet.

The Government now needs to demonstrate with actions that the report and the appointment of Al Gore are not just tactical political manoeuvres in trying to upstage Cameron on the issue of the environment.

After delays and lengthy consulations the Government published its renewed Climate Change Programme (CCP) earlier this year. The general reaction was that by failing to set out a clear strategy and programme of action the CCP was a wasted opportunity. The report of the All Party Parliamentary Environmental Group on the CCP prepared by the Institute for European Environmental POlicy found that the CCP failed to set out the actions needed to move the UK economy forward towards its target of emissions reductions.

The CCP's projections confirmed that the Government does not expect to reach its 2010 target of 20% reduction in carbon dioxide until 2016 or beyond. This does not bode well for the Government's performance over reaching the 60% reduction target by 2050.

It also explains why up until now the Government has also steadfastly refused to support legislation to set clear annual targets on cilmate change policy.

This weekend's media reports of the devastation being caused by climate change in Africa brought home with graphic effect the impact on the poorest in our global community.

The Campaign Against Climate Change demonstration on Saturday (4th November)will be highlighting that the action currently being taken by Governments to control climate change is nowhere near sufficient to match the scale of the problem.

Ther is a clear and urgent need for a Climate Change Bill to be a priority in the forthcoming Queen's speech but this Bill must set out a series of radical and concrete actions which transform the policymaking and expenditure priorities of the Government.

This means challenging some powerful vested interests who have always had the ability to almost dictate Government policy to protect their interests. This includes the aviation industry. For over 20 years I have campaigned to press successive Governments to make the aviation companies accountable for the environmental damage they inflict. The Treasury under Gordon Brown has blocked any attempt at making the aviation industry pay its way even in terms of VAT on fuel and has come out promoting expansion at Heathrow airport.

As Chair of "Heathrow Watch" and with Heathrow in my constituency I know just what environmental damage can be done by an industry virtually out of environmental control. At long last people and Government's are beginning to listen to us.

I fully support the Demonstration at the weekend and will seek to ensure that any proposed Climate Change Bill will not be too little too late.