Letter: Insights from the social sciences are needed to protect the environment

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The Independent Online
Sir: On Monday, 7 February, the ninth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Geneva to discuss, for the first time, the adequacy of commitments of the Climate Convention. Climate Action Network UK (Can UK) members are concerned that the present target to return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 fails to reflect the goal of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Members of Can UK, a network of leading environmental groups working on climate change, are therefore disappointed by the lost opportunities in the Government's document, Climate Change: the UK Programme, which was published on 25 January.

While encouraged by the Department of the Environment's analysis of the problem, and the few specific measures included, we believe that the overall framework for actions proposed to address it are inadequate to combat the threat of climate change. The need for a higher existing target and a target for CO2 emissions beyond the year 2000 were identified as vital components of the national CO2 programme by the participants in the DoE's consultation process on the programme last year, and yet both remain unaltered.

We are therefore still concerned by the following: the unambitious target for CO2 and other greenhouse gases such as methane; the lack of targets beyond the year 2000; and the paucity of specific measures, particularly in the transport sector.

Can UK urges the British government to commit itself to reduce its emissions of CO2 by at least 20 per cent, from the base year established by the convention by the year 2005, at a level consistent with the Toronto conference target. These are the minimum actions consistent with the precautionary principle and with sustainable development that Britain should affirm and demonstrate its willingness to adopt.

Yours sincerely,


Co-ordinator, Climate Action

Network UK


Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy


Senior Planner, Council for the Protection of Rural England


Director, Green Alliance


Public Relations Officer, National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection


Director of Conservation, Royal Society for Nature Conservation


Energy & Transport Policy Officer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds


Deputy Director, Transport 2000


Pollution Policy Officer, World Wide Fund for Nature

London, WC2

4 February