Letter: Greener than thou

Share
Related Topics
Sir: It is good that the Foreign Office now treats impending climate change and sea-level rise seriously. ("The paradise isles on the edge of disaster", 10 October), after decades of indifference to global environmental crises, such as tropical deforestation, over-fishing and species extinction.

However, the UK is in danger of losing influence over other industrial nations as its pronouncements on their responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions take on an unattractive "holier than thou" tone. The exhortation of the Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett that Australia, Japan and the USA must agree tough reduction targets at the crucial climate change summit in Kyoto in eight weeks time may be right, but it would carry far more weight if the Government spent less time trumpeting its own (welcome) carbon dioxide reduction target of 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010 and started implementing domestic programmes to reach that target.

There are a number of initiatives that must be undertaken in Britain, which would bring definite social and economic benefits, and yet none featured in either Labour's first Queen's Speech or its first Budget.

Transport is responsible for over a fifth of carbon dioxide pollution, and emissions are rising rapidly as traffic levels soar. Why, then, no legislation along the lines of the Road Traffic Reduction Bill, drafted by Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, and sponsored by Cynog Dafis MP? Why no tougher energy-efficiency standards, for buildings as well as vehicles?

A nationwide home energy conservation programme is an essential prerequisite for lowering carbon emissions. And it would help eradicate the scandal of fuel poverty in this country, suffered by 15 million people, prevent some 30,000 people from dying every year because they are cold and damp as their homes leak energy and waste warmth, while creating between 25,000 and 50,000 jobs. Why was the windfall tax not used to kickstart such investment?

The long-term funds for such a programme, for building up a modern public transport network and for developing clean renewable energy supplies such as offshore wind, wave and solar power, can easily be found. End company car, and free fuel and parking, subsidies worth pounds 550m a year, along with the pounds 1.5bn tax breaks given to oil companies annually to find more oil.

Above all, introduce a graduated carbon tax across the European Union so that the dirtiest fuels are taxed the most, and the cleanest the least, and commensurately reduce taxes on labour. Not only would carbon emissions fall, but so would the price of employment, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the EU.

Why also does the Treasury resist ending the farcical anomaly whereby energy-saving materials are VAT taxed at 17.5 per cent whereas energy use is taxed at 5 per cent?

Simply lecturing other nations about their obvious failings is no way to prepare for Kyoto.

CHARLES SECRETT

Director

Friends of the Earth

London N1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: genius of Apple, fools and commercial enterprises, and the Queen

John Rentoul
Tory whips were anxiously ringing round the “usual suspects” following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip  

i Editor's Letter: Douglas Carswell's defection

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone