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


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.


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


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


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


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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor