Leading article: A revolution in attitudes


The Government's review of its climate change programme was as limp as we feared. Though the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, defiantly announced that the Government would not abandon its target of cutting carbon emissions 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010, she was also forced to admit that she has no idea how this ambition will be fulfilled.

It seems that the Department of Trade and Industry prevailed in its battle with the Department for the Environment. Any radical proposals for curbing the UK's CO 2 output discussed in the course of this review, such as the statutory capping of industry's emissions, were rejected. The fact that it took 18 months to come up with yesterday's weak statement of intent does not bode well. Control of this agenda is slipping from the Government's grasp. All its tinkering so far has failed to make much of a difference. We are failing to hit our targets and will continue to fail unless there is a radical change in direction.

The belief that top-down action by governments can achieve the necessary breakthrough in carbon emission reductions now looks like a vain hope. It is increasingly clear that Britain will only begin to make serious headway when there is a revolution in attitudes to our society's consumption of energy. The change must come from below. Only when a seismic shift in opinion has taken place will a political consensus emerge. Otherwise political parties will never be free of the temptation to appeal to the section of the electorate that would prefer "business as usual".

This is a revolution that must take place not just in Britain. If we are to stall the disastrous process of global warming, all developed and developing nations must examine the way they use energy. This is where you - our readers - come in. We have already had a formidable response to our national debate on climate change, launched yesterday. In just one day we received hundreds of responses. These have included practical suggestions ranging from the relatively mild (encouraging home builders to put solar panels on the roofs of all new houses) to the hard-line (enforcing wartime-era energy rationing).

Your submissions also indicate a growing acceptance that sacrifices will be needed. The idea that short-term economic growth may have to give way to tough measures to preserve our environment and way of life for the long term appears to be gaining ground. Many of you accept that there may need to be curbs on our individual liberty to consume energy.

This is uncharted territory - both for politics and our planet. But it is a debate that cannot be delayed. Thank goodness it is finally taking place.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own