Letters: Climate report

Climate report delivers a jolt to ministers
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The Independent Online

Four key points from the Turner Committee report on climate change require government policy change. First, he rightly says that emissions from international aviation and shipping must be sharply reduced and brought within the Government's carbon reduction targets. At present they're exempt, even though emissions from international flights more than doubled to 40 million tonnes in 2006.

He proposes that no new coal-fired power stations should be licensed unless it can be retro-fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment by 2020. Yet a reply to a parliamentary question of mine this month said starkly that the Government will not commit "to require new coal plants to be fitted with CCS or to set a date by which this should be required". Turner is right that new coal stations such as Kingsnorth, Blyth and at least half a dozen others should be halted until a timetabled CCS commitment is in place.

Third, Turner is sceptical of buying carbon credits abroad (such as by building a clean-energy power plant in China) to offset against carbon targets in the UK. The Government is currently planning to allow as much as 30 per cent of the overall UK target to be obtained from abroad by this means. Turner thinks this should be cut back in the current carbon budget to less than 10 per cent, or preferably zero, and he's right.

Lastly, the Government needs Turner's big jolt to kick-start a massive programme in renewable sources of energy, where Britain's record hitherto has been pathetic. The big EU countries all generate 10-25 per cent of their electricity from renewables, and Scandinavia 35-50 per cent. The UK performance, with the best renewables capacity in Europe from wind and wave and tidal power, is just 4 per cent. That has got to change – fast.

Michael Meacher MP

(Oldham W and Royton, Lab)

House of Commons

The policy that doomed Baby P

Your leader (2 December) wrongly attributes the failure to take care proceedings in Baby P's case to social work orthodoxy, when in fact it has been central government policy for many years to reduce the number of children in care. This is despite the warnings of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the care judges and lawyers.

In most respects, Sharon Shoesmith was the model children's director for the new-look Department for Children, Schools and Families. The numbers of children in care and on the child protection register were to be reduced, and under her regime they were. She achieved her targets. In its December 2007 inspection, Ofsted congratulated Haringey on its dangerous achievement.

From December 2006, when he was nine months old and seen with suspicious bruising to his head and chest, there was an overwhelming case for baby P to be the subject of care proceedings. In order to make an interim care order, the court only needs to be satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering significant harm. Baby P would have automatically had a court-appointed guardian to represent his interests, independent of the parents and the local authority. A court would have heard the evidence and decided whether it was safe for him to go home. A care judge would have directed and controlled his assessment and future.

The Government's policy and thinking is now ingrained in social work managers. Taking court proceedings is a last desperate measure. Not only were no proceedings taken on Baby P, legal advice was not even sought until nine days before he died. If he had been the subject of care proceedings, he would be alive and well today.

Martha Cover

Coram Chambers

London WC1

You state that Cllr Liz Santry "survived a motion of no confidence" over her department's handling of the Baby P case (2 December). This is untrue. A motion of no confidence was tabled by the Liberal Democrat opposition. This motion was then amended by the Labour majority on the council and the neutered motion was forced through. So the original motion of no confidence was never voted on.

The majority Labour group then voted to move on to other items and refused to allow votes on two further opposition amendments calling for the resignation of those at the top and that departing officers should not be "paid off". At this point, opposition councillors abandoned a meeting that had become an affront to democracy.

The local Labour Party's handling of the Baby P tragedy is the most visible example of a control-freak culture that has ruled Haringey for almost 40 years. Secrecy is the order of the day; those who raise genuine concerns are patted on the head and dismissed. This culture runs through Haringey like the letters in a stick of rock. It will only change when the current administration falls.

Nigel Scott

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Alexandra Ward, Haringey, London N22

One thing which the tragic Baby P case has illustrated with crystal clarity is the abject inadequacy of the Ofsted inspection regime. This has been known within education circles for a very long time, but now it may become more widely understood. To have given Haringey their highest "three star" rating following an inspection which took place after the death of Baby P beggars belief, and shows a regime bereft of competence and with no right to public respect or financing. Why does it seem to be so perfectly Teflon-coated?

Dr David Moulson

Roxby, North Lincolnshire

If carers of children on the "at risk" register were required to bring the child to a designated point, such as a surgery or clinic, once a week, then the onus would not be on overstretched, frequently young, possibly frightened social workers spending precious time having to knock on unanswered doors, or where there might be the threat of danger either to themselves or to the carer.

Failure to bring the child would result in immediate action by the local authority, either problem-solving, practical help, or more drastic action.

L Cornish


The most worrying feature of the Baby P case is that a large proportion of headteachers in Haringey supported the now deposed head of children's services, Sharon Shoesmith. What does that say about the children in their schools and the protection being afforded to them?

Bob Miller

Chelmsford, Essex

Back to the stock market casino

I do hope no one takes up Margareta Pegano's advice to hand over more hard-earned money to be played in the super-casino in the sky (Opinion, 1 December). For those who were fortunate enough to have earnings to save and buy shares, the future is not good. To rally the workers to buy back into a dream beggars belief. Now is the time to start doing things differently.

C Hall


Jeremy Warner expresses surprise that car manufacturers, normally averse to state intervention, are now looking for sate aid (Outlook, 28 November). I take it Jeremy is being rhetorical. The most cursory glance at economic history reveals that during boom times, owners and managers use all their ingenuity to put the profits beyond the reach of the state, and that as soon as it all goes wrong, they use the same ingenuity to palm off the losses on the public purse while hanging on to their ill-gotten gains.

Stephen Moorby

London N7

Like Joanne McLaughlin (letter, 29 November), I too was offered unasked-for increased credit, 18 times my weekly income. The banks should be stopped from making these reckless offers. Too many people have been hurt already.

Christine Warner

Shipley, West Yorkshire

What the extreme Islamists want

I think I can see what Ainslie Walton is driving at (Letter: "Keep blaming 'them' and the terror will go on", 2 December). But as I understand it the Mumbai terrorists are believed to have come from the irredentist end of politicised Islam; that is to say the groups who believe that all territory anywhere that has ever been under Islamic rule should be restored to a new Caliphate under Sharia law.

As the areas involved include Spain, Sicily, the Balkans , most of Russia, the whole of the Middle East and India, and this attractive plan includes the abolition of Israel and the subjection of all non-Muslims in this Islamic superstate to permanently reduced legal and political rights . . . I am somewhat at a loss as to what we could talk about. The weather perhaps?

R S Foster


Brown's moment of greatness

Times of great crises call for great statesmen to raise their heads above mere politics. Sadly with his petty but expensive VAT reduction off general tat, and now his screaming silence over a Stasi-like arrest of an opposition politician, we can see that Gordon Brown's brief moment in the sun was just a lucky strike on home turf. Now it seams we're back to bungling and blinkers.

Where Barack Obama indicates all the hallmarks of true greatness, with his call for a Green New Deal stimulus for jobs and growth, Gordon fails to spot how the very same visionary shot can score two winning goals on behalf of ourselves and the next generation. Instead its two bob off the price of a pair of jeans.

Steve Crawford


Hysteria over Green arrest

The hysteria emanating from the corridors of Westminster over the arrest of Damian Green confirms what most have suspected for some time: that our Members of Parliament consider themselves above the laws of the land. These pampered individuals have voted themselves privileges the rest of us can only dream of.

It is unlikely that many of these hysterics are familiar with the full details of the police file. Nevertheless, one newspaper carried the ridiculous headline "Police state Britain". If the day ever dawns when the lawmakers of this country realise their dream and actually place themselves beyond those laws, we will be have a police state

A W MacQuillin

London SE15


Home of good English

Perhaps the only pleasure that can be had from listening to reports of the recent, awful events in Bombay has been the immaculate English spoken by the Indian commentators. No "up and down the country"; no "ahead of the curve" – in fact not a hint of jargonese. Just clear and exact English. One spokesman even used the word "excoriated" correctly. One wonders if our own politicians would sound better in Hindustani.

Charles Noon

Cadeleigh, Devon

Credit crunch

Your leading article criticises the speed of television credits (2 December). It used to be that after a particularly shocking denouement, silent credits gave you chance to digest what you had just experienced. Nowadays there is no such respite, but you can bet that TV schedulers and advertisers wouldn't waste a second of screen time if they didn't have to. If they can make the credits so illegible, why are they compelled to show them at all?

Stan Broadwell

Yate, Gloucestershire

Sound and fury

Your report "BBC sorry again after star exposes himself" (2 December) suggests the following short radio script.

PRESENTER: Good evening, and welcome to this edition of "Stretching the Envelope".

FX: Man exposing himself.

PRESENTER: Well. that's all for tonight. Hope you enjoyed the programme. We did and we apologise for any offence caused.

GRAMS: Closing music

Jack Chatterley


Obama's choice

He opposed the Iraq war, declared his readiness to open a dialogue with Iran and described her judgement on foreign affairs as "poor". She supported the Iraq war, threatened to bomb Iran and called him "dangerously naive". One may be forgiven for thinking that Barack Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State is a signal that there will be no reversal of Bush's foreign policy. In which case, shouldn't Obama have offered the post to Senator John McCain?

Sam Nona

Burradoo, New South Wales, Australia

Mourning monsters

David Crawford criticises Eamonn de Valera for offering official condolences on the death of Adolf Hitler (letter, 1 December). It would be interesting to learn if the British government similarly offered condolences on the deaths of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, who were incrementally responsible for many more deaths of innocent people.

Basil Bailey

Hawick, Scottish Borders