David Cameron: 'We need a greater sense of urgency on climate change'

Since becoming leader of the Conservative Party I have sought to push the environment up to the top of the political agenda. Not only is it something that I feel strongly about, but I am aware that my position has given me a unique opportunity to stimulate national debate on an issue that we cannot afford to ignore. I intend to take it.

This is one of the reasons I decided to go on a fact-finding visit with WWF to the Arctic Research Station at Ny Alesund in Norway. I want to see for myself the effects of climate change, not just to see a retreating glacier but to meet leading scientific and research experts. Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the world and we must have a much greater sense of urgency about tackling it.

There are three key elements to the approach we must take. First, we need to recognise that this is an issue that will outlast the span of any one prime minister or parliament and it needs to be dealt with on a cross-party basis. That is why the Conservatives have joined together with the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and others to produce a joint statement on a cross-party approach to climate change. Sadly, Labour has declined invitations to join this initiative. Second, we need to recognise the importance of setting clear and binding targets. The Government has set a target for 2010 which it is now unlikely to meet. It also has a longer-term target for 2050 which on current projections it has little prospect of meeting. What we need is a binding annual target that commits us to real progress and a carbon audit office to make sure that we are achieving it.

We can only play a leading role tackling climate change if we become a low-carbon economy. Unfortunately, we are moving in the wrong direction, with carbon emissions on the rise over the past two years in Britain.

The third element is recognising that climate change is not an issue for governments alone. Everyone has their role to play. We must understand the connections between what we do locally and what happens globally. Think global, act local.

That is why later this year I will be convening a Conservative local green energy summit to investigate the lessons councils can learn from abroad. This week I saw the fantastic progress that Conservative-run Brentwood council is making on recycling. The council's kerbside green waste collection scheme has increased the rate of recycling and composting to almost 30 per cent in the past year.

Bromley council is pioneering a project to collect used cooking oils from local restaurants and turn it into biodiesel, to drive council and hospital vehicles. In Camden, Conservatives have promised to give incentives to residents who swap their petrol-driven car for an electric one.

In Britain we need to recognise the contribution that all sectors make to carbon emissions. Taking the largest contributor, power generation, there is an exciting challenge for the future. Decentralised energy, for example, could play a much greater role in energy provision.

While in Norway I will visit Nydalen business park, which has one of Europe's biggest heat storage systems and one of the latest examples of decentralised energy in action. Geothermal power is just one of many emerging sustainable technologies other countries are adopting.

From climate change to cleaner streets, from cutting waste to cutting noise pollution, environmental issues are all about improving our quality of life. Piecemeal policy-making is no good. That is why we have set up policy groups to look at these inter-connected issues. The instinct to protect and enhance the world around us has been at the heart of Conservatism for generations. We understand that the decisions we make as individuals, as communities and as a nation have enormous consequences, both locally and globally.

Where people have voted blue, their councils have gone green. We are already making transport greener. We're encouraging recycling. We're lowering carbon emissions. We're fighting noise pollution. But this is just the start. I am determined that the Conservative Party will take a lead on the environment and I believe that we have the right values to succeed ­ and understanding of markets, a belief in conservation, a recognition that we need to aim for green growth and a passion to pass on a better world for future generations.

David Cameron is leader of the Conservative Party

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?