Your world. Your say: The great debate continues

Contributions to the all-party inquiry on climate change continue to pour in from 'Independent' readers. We report on the progress of the campaign so far and link to a further selection of your letters and e-mails

A A A

It's not quite people crying in the wilderness, but it's certainly people crying out for something - and as you read though the Independent readers' extraordinary three-day outpouring of feeling on the dangers of climate change, you quickly realise what that is: political leadership.


Believe it, politicians everywhere. People care now about the threat of global warming. They care very deeply. And they want you and your colleagues to act decisively to counter it, in a way that you have so far not yet done.

That is surely the major lesson of the phenomenal correspondence we have triggered with our invitation to readers to have their say on the greatest hazard the planet has ever faced. The cascade of letters and e-mails has been astonishing: in its sheer size; in its range (coming from all over Britain, and indeed the world); in its strength of feeling; and most of all in its demand for more action over climate change - action that often would involve self-sacrifice.

This feeling has exploded at a key moment - just as the Government's efforts to cut Britain's emissions of greenhouse gases have been shown to be glaringly inadequate. When a dispirited Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, disclosed on Tuesday that Labour would fail disastrously to meet its flagship green target of reducing Britain's carbon emissions to 20 per cent below their 1990 levels by 2010, her admission marked what may be seen as a historic turning point. For the failure of Labour's climate policy showed that the old ideas about grappling with global warming will not do.

We can see clearly now that tinkering around the edges of a strongly-growing industrial economy - some energy efficiency here, some renewable power there - simply will not enable governments to take control of emissions. We are all too strongly wedded to a carbon way of life - in driving our cars, heating our homes, playing our DVDs, for any adjustment, however great, to "business as usual" - to make a real difference.

However, on Tuesday morning, as Mrs Beckett was admitting the wreck of Labour's policy, we offered a way forward. In asking for readers' views, we highlighted the suggestion by the All-Party Climate Change Group, led by Colin Challen MP, that to combat global warming, business-as-usual has to be abandoned and radical measures will have to be taken - which might ultimately involved carbon rationing for both individuals and nation-states.

Mr Challen's starting point is that that the issue has to be taken out of party politics: parties seeking short-term political advantage could scupper radical initiatives at the ballot box. And now he is offering to harness the enormous concern and support for action that our mountain of comment has displayed.

"The correspondence is certainly humbling, because it shows the public are far more motivated and aware of the threat of climate change than politicians would like to give them credit for," he said. Mr Challen suggests that Independent correspondents now offer their views to the all-party group's formal inquiry, just beginning, on a cross-party consensus on climate change. It is asking the questions: Is it possible? And is it desirable?

All readers' comments are being forwarded to his group, and all who have full postal or email addresses will be sent the terms of reference of the inquiry, which will take evidence until 9 May.

Mr Challen and his colleagues believe a political consensus is both the only way forward and the vital first step, and that the strength of feeling displayed in this remarkable group of letters will be a tremendously powerful addition to the case.

People are convinced of the dangers of climate change now, and they want their politicians to take it seriously. They want the issue up there with health and education, and the pound in their pocket. And the reason is obvious: they want their children to have a future.

NICKY GAVRON

I think what The Independent is doing is really valuable because it shows how concerned people are becoming. A year ago in our survey of London, concern about climate change was at 11 per cent, just above abandoned cars. This year it is one of the top three concerns, on a par with concern for crime and the cost of living. Politicians have to show leadership and make it possible for people at all levels - from the corporate to the personal - to translate their concerns about climate change into actions on the ground.

Nicky Gavron is Deputy Mayor of London. She initiated the London Climate Change Agency, responsible for reducing London's emissions of CO2

PETER AINSWORTH

I think it's been hugely encouraging to see that so many people care about climate change. I have always believed that people want political leadership on this crucial issue and what you have done has been to prove that, and I congratulate The Independent. This Government has been extraordinarily timid about tackling climate change; the Conservatives have already said we favour a cross-party approach, and perhaps that might help the Government to be less timid.

Peter Ainsworth is Conservative Shadow Environment Secretary

TOM BURKE

If politics is the art of the possible, political leadership is the art of expanding the realm of the possible. What The Independent's amazing outpouring of public opinion has shown is that this Government has not begun to explore the realm of the possible when it comes to action over climate change. Nobody doubts that Tony Blair's intentions have been good, but he has not been able to make the machinery of Government work for him. What you have done is to illustrate the hugely broad base of support for action.

Tom Burke is a former government green adviser, now visiting professor at Imperial College London

CHRIS HUHNE

I think it's great that The Independent is the first national newspaper to have given climate change the prominence it deserves. It is the pre-eminent challenge of our time and the key is to start talking about practical solutions rather than wittering on with warm words and PR stunts. Your correspondence is extraordinary, and it confirms to me that public opinion is finally waking up to the seriousness of the policy problem that we face. This is going to be the key issue of the decade to come, as significant as education or health in the past decade.

Chris Huhne is Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice