Climate change: Our green paper

Tony Blair says global warming is among the biggest threats of our age. But are his plans for a Climate Bill ambitious enough? Here, we offer a more radical manifesto

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Set annual targets for emission reductions

The Government's policy of setting ambitious long-term carbon emission reduction targets has failed. Britain's emissions have been rising every year since 2002. A binding carbon reduction target should be determined by Parliament every year and the Government's performance in delivering these reductions must be monitored by an independent body.

Decentralise energy production

There must be generous grants for decentralised energy production (micro-generation). Local authorities should be given binding targets for reducing their carbon footprint.

Rethink aviation policy

Unless action is taken to curb the rise in the number of flights, all other national efforts to reduce emissions will be cancelled out by 2050. The Government must commit itself to working towards a EU-wide tax on airline fuel. The present aviation tax (levied per passenger) should be replaced with a tax on each plane journey (to encourage airlines to fill planes to capacity). And there should be a presumption against airport expansion in planning decisions.

Curb road pollution

The Government must unfreeze the fuel-tax escalator, cynically suspended six years ago, to discourage the second-biggest contributor to UK carbon emissions - car journeys. Road tax should be increased for fuel-inefficient cars.

Step up the drive for renewable energy

Nuclear power is not the answer to our problems: investment in alternatives should be stepped up. There should be greater commercial incentives for wind-power companies. The renewables target for the national grid (currently 10 per cent by 2010) should double.

Insist on greener homes

Statutory demands (rather than mere guidelines) are needed to ensure that all new houses meet strict energy-efficiency targets. There must also be council-tax discounts or grants for existing homes to increase energy efficiency.

Fight inefficiency

Britain should push for EU-level regulations to discourage energy-wasting products and packaging. Car manufacturers should also be required to meet strict fuel-efficiency standards.

Reduce industrial emissions

The Government's climate-change levy on industry has penalised energy use rather than emissions. This emphasis should be reversed. The Government should also sponsor more research into carbon sequestration techniques.

Invest in green transport

Britain needs far more investment in its cycle lane network and public transport infrastructure. All road-building projects should be reappraised.

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