IoS letters, emails & messages (21 December 2008)

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As someone who works with small-scale farmers in Peru, now considered to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, I am saddened to read the recent catalogue of weak progress by rich countries towards tackling it, whether in the UK ("Red tape strangles Whitehall's plans to boost green energy", 14 December), or the recent climate summits in Brussels and Poznan.

Here in Peru, climate change is already having a devastating impact on the natural environment. In the valley of Huaral, one of the country's most fragile zones, where a third of people rely on small-scale farming to make a living and feed their families, glaciers and snow-caps are melting, rains are less frequent and water resources are running dry.

In lowland areas too, farmers are reporting that seasons are disappearing, making it difficult to plan watering times, sowing and harvesting. Others say water pollution and changes in water temperature are affecting fish stocks. And they worry that climatic phenomena such as El Niño are becoming more frequent and increasingly devastating.

In one community, people are taking decisive action in response to water shortages – all but the elderly are leaving their ancestral lands. People here have little hope that richer countries will tackle climate change if it means their own economic development is compromised.

If politicians persist in evading the necessary targets and weakening their resolve, whether through red tape or self-interest, millions of poor people will, in effect, be abandoned by the West to the escalating impact of an unpredictable and increasingly merciless climate.

Bruno Guemes

Development Worker, Progressio

Huaral, Peru

The Government is not "strangling" progress in the renewables sector, but is committed to a massive increase in green energy by 2020 to fight the damaging effects of climate change and further secure our energy supplies.

The Marine Renewables Deployment Fund was set up to help an industry in its infancy to allow commercial-scale prototypes to be tested in UK waters – a point which the marine energy sector is now approaching. We will help fund projects which stand the best chance of commercial success.

We are world leaders in marine energy: Marine Current Turbine's "SeaGen", the world's first commercial-scale tidal turbine, which had significant levels of government research funding, was last week operating up to full power – a great success story.

As for "civil service obstruction" holding up the roll-out of rooftop wind turbines: we have to make sure that, if we let householders put wind turbines up without planning permission, it doesn't create a flurry of noise-related complaints. Meanwhile more people are now able to apply for money to help towards the costs of installation. We are currently awarding £400,000 per month in grants to householders.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation Minister, Department of Energy and Climate Change

Your articles on the Jean Charles De Menezes inquest ("Family wants commanding officer sacked", 14 December) did not consider why the Kratos execution policy was kept secret, even though everyone would know about it immediately after the first execution. The senior officers involved didn't think through the secrecy aspect, let alone the need for utter diligence. And who outside of the police knew about Kratos in advance?

It is questionable whether Cressida Dick, head of operations on the day, was at all clear on anything. Why, then, has former London mayor Ken Livingstone come to her defence? Or, was he one of those who knew in advance but gave no words of caution and said nothing?

Ian Kirk

Cheadle, Cheshire

The British public should not be encouraged to give any more oxygen of publicity to "celebrities", even if negative ("50 most ludicrous Britons", 14 December). What would be worth discovering is what the public thinks makes for a great journalist.

Mike Bor

London W2

Sarah Sands tells us that some electors respond to David Cameron's Eton education by thinking "I wish I could send my own children there" ("The true message of Dave's Christmas card", 14 December). Clearly aspirational fantasies are still as important as ever in garnering support for the Tories among those who stand to lose from rule by the super-privileged.

Christopher Clayton

Waverton, Cheshire

Many readers will be using their holiday time to think about the year ahead, as well as their achievements so far. Volunteering is a great way to do something worthwhile as well as learn new skills, gain experience, make new friends and have a lot of fun. By logging on to do-it.org.uk and entering their postcode, would-be volunteers can search from over a million opportunities to volunteer in national and international charities. By next December, new volunteers could have something to look back on and feel proud of.

Martyn Lewis CBE

Chairman and founder, YouthNet

London EC4

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