'Climate change should be taken out of politics to allow radical remedies'

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The Independent Online

Climate change is now such a critical problem for Britain and the world that it should be taken out of politics to make radical remedies possible, an inquiry convened by an independent group of MPs will say today.

Tony Blair should lead the search for a cross-party consensus on climate change, and this should be done "with some urgency", reports the inquiry of the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, which has taken into account the opinions of more than 600 Independent readers. Readers were invited to comment in our "Your World, Your Say" issues on climate change. Such a consensus will be needed because even tougher action will soon be necessary for dealing with global warming than is at present envisaged, says the report, which was produced for the group by three independent assessors.

An authoritative independent body, similar to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, should be set up to agree UK climate change targets and measures to meet them, and to report "at least annually" on progress, the inquiry concludes.

Initiated by the group's chairman, the Labour MP Colin Challen, the inquiry looked at the question of whether a cross-party consensus on climate was desirable, and possible. It answers "yes" to both. The idea behind such an agreement would be that radical remedies for climate change - such as carbon rationing - could be tried without being neutered by Britain's adversarial political process.

The growing body of evidence that global warming is advancing far more rapidly than scientists once thought it would makes it likely that such tough measures will be necessary, and the inquiry highlights a coming milestone, the next report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due next year.

"The existing political consensus on a target of a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 may need to be revisited, in the direction of a cross-party commitment to even tougher action, when the fourth assessment report from the IPCC is published in 2007," it says.

The inquiry took evidence from politicians of all parties, and received nearly 100 written submissions from campaign groups, companies, scientists, church people and others. Mr Challen said yesterday: "We initiated this inquiry to look beyond the tendency of politics to dwell in the terrain of competition for short-term advantage.'' The three assessors who wrote the report are Dr Helen Clayton of the Natural Environment Research Council; Mark Whitby, a consulting engineer, and Professor Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University.