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My response to Friends of the Earth's three demands of the Government's new CLIMATE CHANGE BILL

26 November 2007

I have received over 600 post cards and emails from constituents supporting Friends of the Earth’s campaign for a strong Climate Change Bill.  I am very supportive of the campaign; for information, below is a slightly longer version of an article which Birmingham FoE have agreed to publish in their latest newsletter.

I am glad to have this opportunity to set out my position to supporters of Friends of the Earth.   I have a longstanding record of work on climate change, much of which is documented on my website, and can be accessed via the following link:  The information includes details of my work as a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee, which carried out pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Climate Change Bill and succeeded in getting the Government to strengthen the Bill considerably.  I urge you to read our report, containing recommendations, and the Government's Response via links on my website or via the EFRA Select Committee's website[1]. 


§                Reduce emissions every year so that the UK reaches a target of at least 80 per cent cuts by 2050.

The most important target is limiting global warming to 2°C, and this means a much greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than 60% by 2050 is needed.

The Government has announced the most recent scientific research available should be reviewed to consider to what extent the target should be higher than 60%.  It is important that this is done as quickly as possible.

But even to reach the 60% target wll take huge changes in our way of life.  The Bill is an important first step for cranking up the targets in the future.  Once we start making those changes, the inertia will be overcome, making it more likely that we can accelerate change.  Targets are fine, but most importantly we need the right policies - to convert what is technically possible to what is practically possible! 

§                Include annual targets so that politicians can't blame preceding Governments for missed targets

Initially I was attracted to the idea of annual targets but, having taken part in the EFRA Select Committee’s enquiry, I accept that the Government has committed to a strong annual emissions reporting system, in which the Committee on Climate Change reports annually on Government progress, as a more practical way of keeping the pressure up.[2]  Government is obliged to respond, with both reports being laid before Parliament for proper scrutiny.  In some ways this is stronger than setting annual targets, because if the emissions are cut simply because there is, for example, a mild winter, then the Government cannot claim credit for such ‘progress’; i.e., proper analysis of what is going on will provide much greater transparency.

§                Include emissions from international aviation and shipping.

The UK Government has led Europe in pushing for the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) as soon as possible.  I welcome the Government’s announcement that the Committee on Climate Change will

o  Advise on a methodology for including international aviation emissions in UK targets which is workable and compatible with the EU ETS.  

o  Report annually to Parliament on emissions from international aviation and shipping.

Given that much of our trade is via our ports, I would also like to see shipping emissions included in UK targets.

In your view, what is the greatest opportunity for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Selly Oak constituency?

I am closely involved in ‘SusMo’ (Sustainable Moseley), a local campaign, covering 9000 households, for a more sustainable community, by personal action to cut our household CO2 emissions and through community initiatives – see susmo.  I hope more local people will join and that as progress is made the model will be replicated in other parts of the constituency.  If you live in Moseley, I urge you to join, and to make a pledge to cut your personal carbon footprint at SusMo's own subgroup of Birmingham’s CRed site, which you can find at This gives SusMo the opportunity to keep a record of progress in reducing our energy use in Moseley.  However, anyone can make a pledge to cut their personal carbon footprint at Birmingham’s CRed site at

What other actions have you taken to bring about carbon dioxide reductions in Birmingham and in the UK?

I persuaded the Prime Minister to take another look at introducing ‘feed-in tariffs’ for renewable energy see: feed-in-tarrifs.
Feed-in tariffs have underpinned the successful expansion of renewable energy in Germany, Spain and Latvia.  Their introduction in the UK could transform positively the renewables industry as well as incentivise households to become microgenerators themselves.

[1] Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill: The Government Response to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny and Public Consultation, at:

[2] See p 68 of the Government’s Response


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