Ten things that the government can do...
Saturday 03 December 2005
SET LEGALLY BINDING, ANNUAL CO2 REDUCTION TARGETS
Current atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years, while sea levels may be rising twice as fast as in previous centuries. New laws committing governments to reducing CO2 every year by a fixed amount are essential.
COMMIT TO PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS
Governments fear discussing the impact of climate change for fear of upsetting the economy. But campaigns of the kind used in the UK to tackle health issues like smoking are needed to shock the public out of a naivety that ranks climate change as less important than terrorism, Third World debt and Aids.
TACKLE THE GAS GUZZLERS
Raise vehicle excise duty on fuel-heavy cars; make it more than £1,000 in the UK with further planned rises. Insist on a health warning on the side, similar to packets of cigarettes: "This Vehicle Damages The Environment, Your Health And Your Future."
OBLIGE OIL COMPANIES TO BLEND BIOFUELS INTO FORECOURT PETROL AND DIESEL
Biofuels, which are made from crops do not add to the emissions of CO2. They are "carbon neutral" because the CO2 they produce when burnt was absorbed from the atmosphere by the crops used to make them. Governments of industrialised nations should draw up biofuel obligations requiring oil companies to blend a fixed proportion of biofuels with all the fuel that they sell in garages.
SLASH THE GROWTH OF CHEAP FLIGHTS
Raise air passenger duty to end flights cheap on the pocket and pricey to the stratosphere (CO2 emissions from aircraft are rising faster than any other source). End the oopholes which allow most airlines to escape paying fuel duty.
SIGN UP DEVELOPING NATIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL TARGETS
Rapidly expanding industrial economies such as China and India must be bound to meeting environmental targets, in the same way that the Kyoto protocol legally binds 141 countries to cutting pollutant greenhouse gases.
CONVINCE THE US TO TAKE CLIMATE CHANGE SERIOUSLY
The world leaders concerned about global warming need to bend the ear of America's leader - who in turn needs to placate the oil lobby. Without the United States, the fight against climate change lacks conviction or global reach.
DECENTRALISE ENERGY SUPPLY SYSTEMS
Legislate that new buildings in industrial nations should be CO2-free, with a power station in the basement. Features should include solar panel roofs, and mini-wind turbines to soap up wasted heat.Governments should have targets, audited by an independent body with sanctioning powers.
BOOST NEGLECTED RENEWABLE ENERGIES; SOLAR, WAVE AND TIDAL POWER
Properly fund and support renewable energies other than wind. These have vast potential to supply CO2-free electricity but are underdeveloped. Oblige electricity supply companies to provide an increasing amount of their power from renewable sources.
Renew the impetus behind off-shore wind farms through government development subsidies. Few coastal nations are making any progress. The UK made a good start but stalled after technical and financial difficulties.
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