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Senior parliamentarian calls for action, global treaty on climate chan ge

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    Published on 27 Apr 2006 by Global Commons Institute Fw: [fuelcell-energy] ... Senior parliamentarian calls for action, global treaty on climate change By Sir
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2006
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      Published on 27 Apr 2006 by Global Commons Institute

      Fw: [fuelcell-energy]
      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Senior parliamentarian calls for action, global treaty on climate
      change By Sir Walter Menzies (Ming) Campbell

      Sir Walter Menzies Campbell (known as Ming Campbell is leader of the
      Liberal Democrat party in the United Kingdom.

      Climate change is about the security, liberty and prosperity of the
      human race.

      It is about the human rights of our children and grandchildren; it is
      about their right to live in a habitable planet.

      Here at the Tyndall Centre you have done much to contribute to the
      world's understanding about the reality of climate change. But the
      time to debate whether or not greenhouse gases actually have a
      greenhouse effect is over.

      Climate change is happening.

      The Gulf Stream is weakening. Within 20 years it could miss the UK

      The Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland is now moving towards the sea at
      the rate of 113 feet a year instead of the normal speed of one foot a
      year. This one glacier alone is thought to be responsible for 3 per
      cent of the annual rise in sea levels.

      The Coast of Norfolk, 20 miles from here is at risk with every point
      rise in the North Sea.

      We are at a crucial moment in history. Global warming is now. We have
      a window of opportunity within which we can affect the course of
      climate change. In ten years it may be too late.

      Climate change is the greatest moral challenge to politicians and to
      people of our age.

      It requires urgent action now. Not in the future, not when technology
      becomes available or when political parties have finished their inter-
      necine battles on the issue.

      We are now faced with two tasks:

      Halting its progress. And mitigating its effects.

      The recent interest by leading politicians in the issue of climate
      change in the UK is welcome, if perhaps overdue.

      The Tory party and Gordon Brown's Treasury are late converts to the

      It is easy to make speeches warning of disaster and extolling the
      benefits for business of saving energy and saving money.

      But it is much harder to change the behaviour of companies and
      individuals, and to negotiate international agreements binding other
      countries to targets.

      Every political party in the UK is agreed that we must cut our carbon
      dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050.

      But no party leader has seriously considered what measures are needed
      to meet those targets.

      The stark fact is that emissions in the UK are up by 3% since 1997.
      Emissions from cars and air transport are going up. Carbon Dioxide
      emissions from power generation have risen by 15% since 1997.

      The response?

      A failure of nerve from the government. And a surfeit of spin from
      the Conservatives.

      There has been a failure to ask what a carbon free or a carbon
      neutral economy might look like. And a failure to explain clearly
      what kind of measures will be needed to move us in that direction.

      Today I want to issue a challenge to the Labour and Conservative
      parties. To think about what a low-carbon economy might look like,
      and to state plainly whether they are prepared to take the steps
      necessary to achieve it.

      Moving to a low-carbon economy presents both opportunities and

      But carbon emissions cannot be reduced in a flurry of snow and a dog-
      friendly photo opportunity.

      The Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of their record at the
      forefront of thinking global and acting local on the environment.

      And we are proud of our readiness to take tough and unpopular
      decisions on the environment.

      It is contradictory to put a windmill on your roof, while calling for
      a "concerted programme of road building," as David Cameron has done.

      And it is disingenuous to boast about Britain's green leadership
      while presiding over a rise in emissions and campaigning in Europe
      for a weakening of UK emissions targets, as the government has done.

      A cross party agreement, setting a clear regulatory framework for the
      reduction of emissions would be welcome.

      Both other political parties agree that tackling climate change is
      an `urgent challenge'.

      Well I have a challenge, for them. Today I am issuing a challenge to
      the Labour and Conservative parties on climate change.

      Let us as a matter of principle and policy agree that we should shift
      the burden of tax from income to the environment.

      Let us agree on several practical steps for reforming our tax system
      to encourage green behaviour.

      These steps are common sense and they do not require eighteen months
      of deliberation by a policy review. Indeed, some of them may well
      require votes during the debates on the Finance Bill.

      The first is the principle of using green taxes to change behaviour.
      We are not in favour of higher taxes overall but green taxes are a
      lever by which we can ensure that our individual behaviour is
      collectively sustainable.

      We need fairer and greener taxes, not higher taxes. Green taxes have
      now fallen as a share of national income from 3.6% in 1999 to 3%
      today. But the proportion of national income derived from green taxes
      should be rising not falling.

      Second, green taxes, including excise duty on fuel, should not fall
      in real terms from year to year. Indeed the trend fall in green taxes
      should be reversed to help cut carbon emissions. Given that the rate
      of increase in greenhouse gas emissions from transport has doubled
      since 2000, the year that excise duty on fuel started to fall in real
      terms, fuel excise duty should be raised in line with inflation.

      Third, there should be a substantial increase in the top rate of
      Vehicle Excise Duty above the Chancellor's meagre �45 so as to
      discourage new purchases of the most polluting cars. VED is one of
      the simplest and easiest ways to implement the `polluter pays'
      principle. Failure to use it effectively in light of current
      knowledge is negligent.

      Fourth, the climate change levy should be reformed into a universal
      carbon tax. A new carbon tax should include household emissions as
      well as business emissions with appropriate provisions for the less
      well off. In the meantime, the Climate Change Levy should also be
      raised in line with inflation as proposed by the Chancellor in the
      finance bill.

      Fifth, we must end the madness of subsidising pollution from air
      travel. Aircraft are exempt from VAT and excise duty on fuel as well
      as exempt from the climate change levy. Air Passenger Duty should be
      restructured as a tax on aircraft emissions not passengers.

      I have written to David Cameron today, making clear that, provided we
      can reach agreement on these five points, the possibility exists of a
      strong cross-party agenda to reform our tax system so that it rewards
      green behaviour.

      But let me make it clear: these principles are a minimum test of
      commitment. Without these simple but serious steps, a cross-party
      agreement on climate change is impossible.

      Let me also add to the government: anyone who believes there is a
      moral dimension to climate change would have no difficulty in
      embracing these ideas.

      Votes on the Climate Change Levy and Vehicle Excise Duty in the
      upcoming Finance bill will be clear benchmarks against which to test
      the Tories new found green tinge.

      The public increasingly recognise the environmental problems of our
      age, but they are not na�ve. To Gordon Brown and David Cameron I
      quote Roy Jenkins: By your actions and your votes you will both be

      Society and the economy do not function in a vacuum. Change cannot be
      left to the market alone. It is the role of government to set the
      rules, to establish the framework and to steer a course. And that
      involves policy decisions, not photo-opportunities.

      Our simple package of green taxes would send a clear signal to
      business and to individuals about the direction of travel of the
      British economy.

      In their submissions to the government's energy review power
      companies such as Centrica and RWE npower called for greater
      certainty on future energy policy. Many of them submitted proposals
      for stronger cuts in emissions than the government itself proposed
      recently in the Climate Change Programme Review.

      But what they wanted, above all, was leadership. They wanted a clear
      signal about what kind of energy system the government wants.

      Commerce and business are adaptable. It is the essence of commerce
      and business to adapt and to find new ways of being profitable. But
      investment decisions can only sensibly be made against a secure

      The UK has a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60% before
      2050. What will this mean for you and me? And what will it mean for
      the economy?

      Changing behaviour: cutting energy consumption, decentralising and
      deregulating the power sector, building greener homes, cutting waste
      and driving environmentally friendly cars is thought to be unpopular.
      It is seen as undesirable, uneconomical, unrewarding.

      Energy efficiency is seen as wearing a hair shirt: why should we
      tighten our belts when other countries are polluting their way to
      higher economic growth?

      But in truth, pursuing a low-carbon economy is not about denying
      ourselves opportunities for growth, it is about opening up new
      opportunities, including new ways of measuring progress and raising
      public funds.

      The world will have to go green in the future, indeed it is already
      moving in that direction.

      There are hundreds of new markets emerging, and with them new jobs.
      The Chinese are already investing in lightweight cars. Portugal is
      researching new tidal power systems. California is pioneering a form
      of incentives for power companies to cut their customers energy

      Britain should be at the forefront in breaking new ground and
      harvesting those opportunities. If we can have tax cuts to encourage
      films to be made in the UK why can't we have incentives for green
      investments and green behaviour?

      The low-carbon economy of the future will be built on decentralised
      energy supply, renewable technologies, on solar, wind, wave and tidal
      power and carbon capture and storage.

      Low energy housing, using improved-insulation, intelligent design,
      sustainable water management, smart metering of electricity, and
      computer monitoring of demand and supply are already possible.

      Cars and trains can be made lighter and stronger requiring a fraction
      of the energy to go the same distance and running on electricity or
      biomass or Liquid Petroleum Gas.

      An intelligent and forward thinking government would be investing in
      research and development for these technologies now, something called
      for by the Railway Forum and by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

      The technologies outlined above are not only greener than existing
      alternatives but in most cases cheaper too. A lighter car requires
      less fuel. A better designed house needs less energy to heat it. And
      a decentralised energy network should produce more efficient and
      cheaper energy without the losses incurred in transmission and

      It is worth repeating: being carbon-neutral is not simply a worthy
      goal, it is a profitable economic one as well.

      Of course Britain cannot solve climate change by itself. Emissions
      control requires international co-operation on a major scale.

      But this should not be an excuse.

      Pursuing a low carbon, more energy efficient economy is worthwhile in
      its own right since it saves money.

      And, international change requires moral leadership at the highest
      level. Leadership internationally is best achieved through setting an
      example and maintaining the high ground. If Britain can demonstrate
      the advantages of a low carbon economy, we can lead the debate on how
      to control climate change.

      But instead of leading, this government has been going backwards not
      forwards on climate change. And the Conservatives are complicit. They
      both speak of a need to `search for' a new framework to control
      emissions after the current round of Kyoto targets runs out in 2012.

      There is no need to look very far. There is a framework in place
      which has the support of the European Parliament, and of many other

      It is called Contraction and Convergence, and the Lib Dems have been
      speaking about it since 2001.

      Sir David King, the Government Chief Scientist, said in a recent
      report that 550 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere was too
      much, and that we would reach that level by 2050 if we continue as we

      International agreement should start with what is an acceptable
      amount of emissions, what is an acceptable amount of climate change.
      It should not start � as Kyoto did � with what is `acceptable' to

      There is a finite amount of emissions that the world can take before
      2050. We have to share out pollution judiciously, and ultimately,
      equally. Relative targets linked to GDP or how much a country feels
      it can reduce are not only unworkable, but our grandchildren may well
      view such political weakness criminal. There must be an absolute
      ceiling on emissions from which an international agreement works back.

      International, and by extension, national targets are a necessary
      part of measuring and monitoring change. Accepting that we are using
      more than our fair share of carbon while actively seeking to reduce
      it is the starting point for a sensible international conversation
      about national emissions budgeting.

      And cutting emissions now in fact would increase our bargaining power
      with other nations over the next few years as the world seeks

      Commitment to European action is central to any serious effort to
      tackle climate change.

      It is only on a European basis that we can ensure energy security and
      sustainability. And it is only through serious commitment to Europe
      that we can persuade other countries to co-operate.

      The planet needs hard decisions about how to negotiate these limits,
      not beginning another search for another framework.

      If we are to meet our national goal of a 60% reduction in carbon
      dioxide emissions by 2050, and to take advantage of the tremendous
      opportunities presented by the challenge of carbon reduction, Britain
      will need to adapt, and quickly.

      Today I am announcing a new policy working group on Climate Change.

      The Climate Change Working Group will meet to build on existing party
      policy and to look at specific proposals for reducing global,
      European and national emissions.

      Politicians have a responsibility to explain the problems and to lay
      out options, to inform the debate and to lead it.

      But the Labour government has consistently avoided hard choices.

      And when it has introduced new measures they have been inadequate.

      What would the Green Switch advocated by us, mean?

      There are several fairly straightforward measures that could be
      implemented right away, some of which I have already mentioned.

      1. Reform the Climate Change Levy

      The Climate Change Levy is a positive step forward. It should be
      restructured as a tax on carbon across the economy to include
      households as well, so that the true cost of our impact on the
      environment is reflected in the prices we pay. Measures would need to
      be devised for protecting those on low incomes or those living in
      inefficient housing.

      2. Raise Vehicle Excise Duty on Polluting Cars

      The Chancellor has increased Vehicle Excise Duty on high polluting
      vehicles by less than half a tank of fuel. If it is to be effective
      as a measure to reduce emissions and encourage greener transport, VED
      will have to be radically redrawn to penalise emissions and reward
      clean cars. The top-rate of VED should be significantly higher than
      at present.

      3. Keep Fuel Duty In Line With Inflation

      Duty on fuel should keep track with inflation. The freeze since 1999
      has led to a rise in emissions.

      4. Tax Emissions not Passengers

      We have led the way in calling for reform of the way air travel is
      taxed. Instead of Air Passenger Duty on each passenger, airlines
      should pay an emissions charge. This would reward flights that were
      full and penalise those wasting a full tank on a few passengers.

      5. No to Nuclear Power

      Central to emissions reduction is the power sector.

      We have consistently called for a mix of energy sources including
      decentralised supply. Up to 70% of energy generated in centralised
      installations is lost before it reaches your home. This is no
      different with nuclear power.

      Investing massive sums in nuclear power will make a low-carbon future
      less likely not more. As the House of Commons Environmental Audit
      Committee said only last week.

      Large scale investment will fossilize the UK power generation
      industry for the next 50 years.

      Nuclear power will mortgage our future. Incentives to diversify will
      disappear. And future generations will be left with uncertain risks
      and costs.

      Taxpayers are expected to pay �56 billion to clean up existing
      nuclear waste (that's �800 pounds a head). As a society we cannot
      afford to undertake that financial burden, not to mention the
      security risk from terrorism.

      A short term focus on nuclear energy will only increase reliance on
      an inefficient centralised energy infrastructure that uses half its
      power in moving electricity around the country.

      6. Yes to Decentralised Energy Supply

      In 2003 the government's own Energy White Paper laid out an ambitious
      agenda for a decentralised energy system, sometimes called `rewiring
      Britain'. This agenda should form the backbone of a renewable energy
      action plan that will lead us towards a flexible, efficient,
      responsive energy sector.

      Rewiring Britain will require investment in infrastructure as well as
      changes to the monopolies of electricity distributors who are
      currently encouraged to sell more power not less. It will require
      learning from the innovative experience elsewhere such as that of
      California in reducing energy demand and saving customers money.

      We need to look at how computer management of demand and supply as
      well as good ideas like Performance Based Regulation, which rewards
      energy conservation measures, can cut emissions.

      If we remove barriers to connection and simplify planning procedures
      for new installations, it should be possible to generate 20% of our
      energy from renewables by 2020, as the British Wind Energy
      Association claims.

      7. Sustainable Building should be the Norm

      A low-carbon economy will require a revolution in housing design and
      patterns of energy consumption in the home.

      UK building regulations are among the weakest in Europe.
      Sustainability must be an essential presumption in planning and
      building regulations.

      The voluntary Sustainable Building Code proposed for public buildings
      binding for all new build, and elements of it applicable for
      renovations and refurbishments.

      It is necessary to reward efficient construction and energy
      consumption, not only in the savings from reduced energy bills. In
      some towns in Holland for example, householders can get rebates on
      their council tax for reducing domestic waste.

      8. Encourage Energy Efficient Appliances

      Energy efficiency should be reflected in fiscal incentives for
      consumers to purchase green appliances, and to discourage inefficient
      or high energy technologies such as high polluting cars, appliances
      with `standby' functions or electric heating installations.

      9. Change Planning Laws

      Both local and national government should do much more to encourage
      the use of microgeneration in the home and in public buildings.
      Planning regulations should be framed to encourage microgeneration
      not inhibit it.

      10. Tighten the EU Cap on National Emissions

      The European Emissions Trading Scheme is the most ambitious of its
      kind and the main lever with which European governments can ratchet
      down emissions. The UK will miss its own domestic target of a 20%
      reduction in emissions by 2010. Instead of seeking a loosening of the
      ETS National Allocation it should be looking to tighten it up. The
      range of figures produced by the DTI on how tight the cap should be,
      is not ambitious enough. We can and should, do better.

      We must press for international agreement on effective targets but we
      should not wait for agreement to act ourselves.

      We all have a role to play.

      We can turn down the thermostat, we can insulate our lofts better, we
      can buy energy efficient light bulbs.

      Those who buy cars can switch to driving environmentally friendly

      We can drive less. We can fly less.

      And most importantly, we can make our views known to our governments.

      The money to be saved and the money to be made by making the green
      switch are huge.

      The United Kingdom can be a leader in the carbon market, still in its
      infancy, yet already worth �11 billion annually.

      I want the UK to make that switch as soon as possible and to lead the
      world by example.

      When I was a child, the smog in Glasgow was sometimes so bad you
      couldn't see a hand in front of your face.

      But then we woke up, we realised what we were doing and passed new
      laws in Britain and in Europe. Factories were retro-fitted, power
      stations cleaned up. Rivers cleaned and fish returned.

      It is easy to forget how innovative and adaptable it is possible to

      Here at the Tyndall centre in Norwich you have already applied your
      minds to great effect to become world leaders on the subject of
      climate change.

      Now that climate change is established as a fact, the next task is
      convincing world leaders to do something about it, and doing
      something about it ourselves.

      The task of finding a global agreement to stop the planet from
      warming is a task which demands the best from us all. With it, we
      shall rise to this, the great challenge of our times. Without, the
      prospect is grim.

      I am determined that we shall not throw away in one generation the
      precious heritage of the centuries, and that we shall all play our
      part in rising to this challenge.

      I am determined that we account to our children and grand children
      for what we did not what we said.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      "Sir Walter Menzies Campbell (known as Ming Campbell and Old Father
      Time), CBE, QC, MP (born 22 May 1941, Glasgow) is a Scottish advocate
      and the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for North East Fife. He
      was elected leader of the Liberal Democrat party on 2 March 2006."

      It's a strange experience for an American to read how the political
      parties in Great Britain are vying for leadership on global warming.

      Aubrey Meyer posted this speech on the Global Commons Institute (GCI)
      website. Click on the link for "Frequently Updated News". The item is
      at the end of the list.

      GCI advocates Contraction and Convergence (C&C Bill in the House of
      Commons: -

      Aubrey notes that Sir Campbell is strongly in favor of the measure
      and mentioned it in his speech:
      But instead of leading, this government has been going backwards not
      forwards on climate change. And the Conservatives are complicit. They
      both speak of a need to `search for' a new framework to control
      emissions after the current round of Kyoto targets runs out in 2012.

      There is no need to look very far. There is a framework in place which
      has the support of the European Parliament, and of many other

      It is called Contraction and Convergence, and the Lib Dems have been
      speaking about it since 2001.

      Article found at :

      Original article :

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