Letter: So much hot air

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Sir: Your leader is forceful on the need to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but weak on the practical steps required to achieve this. Britain is committed under the 1997 Kyoto climate summit agreement to cut emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012. But Labour fought last year's election on a pledge to cut CO2 emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010.

These targets cannot be achieved unless government sets financial incentives for industry to reduce emissions.

A joint report in January 1998 by Friends of the Earth and Forum for the Future estimated that a carbon/nuclear tax set at $1 per equivalent of one barrel of oil would raise about pounds 400m a year. Increasing the tax to $13 per barrel by 2010 would enable employers' National Insurance rates to be cut by more than half, to just three per cent, creating about 100,000 net new jobs.

A carbon/nuclear tax is more ecologically sustainable than a simple energy tax because it would exclude renewable energy sources (such as wind, wave and solar power) and encourage energy users to shift to less carbon-intensive power generation.

But to achieve the deeper emission cuts of 60 per cent by 2050, as recommended by respected climate scientists, we must invest massively in energy efficiency and renewable energy, phase out fossil fuel use, and introduce a comprehensive and integrated eco-tax reform, as has long been argued by the Green Party.