Letter: Commitment essential to reduce emissions

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report of Michael Howard's speech to the global warming conference ('Petrol prices to continue rising', 8 May) states that the petrol price rises announced in the Budget will lead to 'an estimated 15 per cent saving in carbon dioxide emissions'. This should have read 15 per cent of the 'target' savings.

The really notable aspect of last Friday's conference was Michael Howard's continuing refusal to make any commitments, even in principle, to reducing or even stabilising carbon dioxide emissions beyond the year 2000. Other countries such as Germany have committed themselves to substantial reductions after 2000, and a Labour government would do the same. The Environment Secretary tries to justify this inaction by claiming that the science of global warming is still uncertain.

Yet the report of the International Panel on Climate Change - approved by 370 leading scientists from around the world - leaves little room for argument, and even his own Department's White Paper This Commons Inheritance states that 'there can no longer be serious doubt that the global climate faces significant change because of the accumulation of man-made greenhouse gases'.

If this Government was serious about tackling the greenhouse effect, it would be implementing a national programme of energy efficiency works, such as Labour has recently proposed; introducing mandatory efficiency standards for vehicles and domestic appliances; changing the regulatory regime and tariff structures for gas and electricity; and investing in non-polluting renewable energy sources and in public transport, not endless new roads. Instead, Michael Howard takes refuge behind a spurious scientific smokescreen.

Yours faithfully

CHRIS SMITH

MP for Islington South and Finsbury (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

10 May

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