Cameron helps launch climate change alliance

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Indy Politics

David Cameron's drive to reinvent the Conservative Party as the conservationist's friend went a step further when five political parties, including the Tories, combined for an unusual display of unity over tackling climate change.

The Labour Party was the most notable absentee from yesterday's launch, which the Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett dismissed as "just warm words".

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru, and Democratic Unionist Party - with a combined total of 276 MPs - have called for the creation of an independent body that would set and monitor annual targets for reducing greenhouse gases, like the independent committee that sets interest rates. The idea of a cross-party approach came from the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, Norman Baker, and was quickly accepted by Mr Cameron.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said the announcement was "an extremely important development". It came in the week government statistics showed another rise in CO2 emissions.

But Labour pointed out that the Tories opposed the climate change levy, which penalises firms producing a lot of carbon. The Government says by 2010 the tax will have reduced carbon emissions by 3.7 million tons.