Climate change: How green is your MP?

When Rough Guides published its new book on Climate Change, the series editor, Mark Ellingham, decided to send a copy to every MP. With it, he sent a letter asking three simple questions...
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1 How important a concern is climate change?

2 What can Britain do to make a difference?

3 What steps do you plan to take (or have you taken), in your constituency, and as an individual?

MPs are not renowned for responding to surveys, yet nearly half the house ­ 318 of our elected representatives ­ felt strongly enough to break the habit, all the main party leaders among them.

Their replies show a Parliament almost unanimous in its belief that this is the major issue, bar none (Scottish MP Brian Donohoe is a lone sceptic among our respondents, looking forward to a warmer garden). The overall tone was maybe best captured by Richard Benyon (Newbury, Conservative): " Climate Change is the defining issue of our age. Previous generations had to deal with the rise of Nazism or communism. This is the issue on which my generation of politicians will be judged. This is our Dunkirk."

The MPs are equally clear that Britain, the world's fourth largest economy, must take a lead. They are stack-full of ideas for this ­ about energy use and generation, appliances, water, and notably cars and flights ­ and clamouring for a climate change bill, with teeth.

It's not all just fine words, either. MPs like Frank Field, with his CoolEarth campaign to save rainforest, or Colin Challen, who has driven the issue onto the parliamentary agenda, have already taken decisive action. And this is accompanied by a house (or, perhaps, half a house) that is consciously going green in its own behaviour. Most MPs write about actions they have taken in their own lives to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Hats off to Alan Simpson (Nottingham, Labour): "Personally, I have designed and constructed my own eco-home, which generates more electricity than it consumes."

WHICH IS THE GREENEST PARTY?

If you take our responses as a guide, the LibDems care the most: 56 responded, with just 7 absentees. And David Cameron has clearly had an effect on the Conservatives: 114 replied, 82 didn't. Labour was much less impressive, with 141 respondents but 214 absentees (most notably Gordon Brown, despite repeated calls to his office). And climate change doesn't seem to be making much impact on Northern Ireland politics, with not a single response from any DU or Sinn Fein representative.

* What MPs think - A to C
* What MPs think - D to F
* What MPs think - G to H
* What MPs think - I to L
* What MPs think - M to O
* What MPs think - P to S
* What MPs think - T to Y

Or go to www.roughguides.com/ mps/fullreplies.htm

Penguin are offering readers of The Independent The Rough Guide to Climate Change for £5.99, 40 per cent of the rrp of £9.99, plus p&p. Go to www.penguin.co.uk/ climatechange and insert "Indieoffer" in the coupon box. The offer runs for two weeks from 15 November.

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