Real race is tackling climate change

Posted by bex — 5 April 2005 at 8:00am - Comments

A flood reaches almost four feet high on a flood height marker

Today Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the general election. Some party leaders have already hit the campaign trail, but the most important race we now face is tackling climate change.

A new report from the government-backed Energy Saving Trust reveals that people in the UK are more concerned about climate change than any other social issue, above the threat of terrorism, failing school standards and NHS waiting lists. Already up to 150,000 people are dying every year around the world as a result of the impacts of climate change including droughts, floods and storms.

The Labour government has said that climate change is a priority and has made advances in some key areas. For example, the government has given some support to wind power in the UK, and there has been an expansion of wind power under this government. However, levels of the main climate-changing gas, carbon dioxide, have risen since Labour came to power.

The next government must put in place measures which will allow the rapid switch to clean energy needed to prevent the worst effects of climate change. This means coordinated cross government policy changes especially in areas such as transport, energy and housing.

Greenpeace is calling on candidates from all political parties to commit to a 10 point plan for action on climate change:

  1. Ensure the rapid expansion of renewable energy. The government should fund power connections for offshore energy. This will support the development of wind, wave and tidal power.

  2. Support massive expansion of combined heat and power generation. All new housing developments, public and commercial buildings should be required to include combined heat and power generation plants for heating, hot water and electricity. Government should fund changes to local electricity networks to make uptake of combined heat and power and domestic renewable energy generation possible.

  3. Set tough environmental standards for all new buildings. Regulations should ensure that all new buildings are built to zero emission standards. Buildings should incorporate renewable power such as solar PV and solar water heating and state-of-the-art energy efficiency.

  4. End fuel poverty and encourage energy efficiency. Set high energy efficiency standards for social housing and provide financial incentives and grants to encourage energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings. Energy efficient buildings should be eligible for reductions in Council Tax and Stamp Duty. In addition, there should be zero VAT on energy efficient products.

  5. End all government subsidies for dirty fuel industries immediately. The government must stop all subsidies for oil, coal and nuclear power - including export credit guarantees - and invest this money instead in renewable energy schemes.

  6. Drop legal proceedings against the European Union to allow UK industry to emit substantially more CO2 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

  7. Make a clear commitment to increase the cost of petrol and diesel. The government needs to send a clear message to car manufacturers and the public that current levels of CO2 emissions and pollution from transport is unacceptable if we are to combat climate change. Revenue raised should be used to improve public transport.

  8. Make Vehicle Excise Duty progressive. Better known as car tax, Vehicle Excise Duty should be dramatically increased for inefficient vehicles such as SUVs. Incentives should be provided for state-of-the-art fuel efficient vehicles.

  9. Withdraw the Airports White Paper. The government should include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. There should also be a tax on aviation fuel and an increase in air passenger duty to reflect the true environmental impact of flying. These measures would help reduce air travel and make new runways unnecessary.

  10. Fund hydrogen pilot projects. The government should fund local authorities to pilot the infrastructure needed to move to a hydrogen economy.

If we are to prevent a global catastrophe governments must act now to reduce emissions that damage the climate and ensure a switch to clean, renewable energy.

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