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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam