Leading article: A revolution in attitudes

Share

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

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to adapt and survive

Nigel Edwards
 

Letter from the Sub-Editor: Canada is seen as a peaceful nation, but violent crime isn’t as rare as you might think

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?