Monday, November 07, 2005

Climate change policy needs targets

So Blair now thinks, like Bush and other members of the Pacific-Asian alliance that we will not need targets for climate change policies, post-Kyoto.

He said on 1 November that when Kyoto expires in 2012, the international community would need a more 'sensitive framework' for tackling global warming: "People fear some external force is going to impose some internal target on you, which is going to restrict your economic growth. I think in the world after 2012 we need to find a better, more sensitive set of mechanisms to deal with this problem."

Yet only in September he headed a summit in China (not a Kyoto signatory, but in the above alliance with America) which negotiated a deal to let British and European low-carbon companies help China move to a low-carbon future - and the financing of this was tied into the Kyoto arrangements.

"With this agreement, the carbon market has taken a major step forward towards moving into the big time," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of the global WWF Climate Change Programme, at the time. "An EU-Chinese partnership to use the market to leverage a low carbon economy is very exciting."

But business friendly-Blair now believes business doesn't like targets.

But who has told him this? Not the CBI or the CEOs of 12 leading companies including BP and Shell who, earlier this year, told the Prime Minister they wanted the government to "set a clear, long term, emissions reduction target" (in a letter sent 27 May).

Is this the same Blair who is so beloved of targets in the areas of health, childcare, education, and a hundred other areas of public life?

How is it that in social policy we can't measure and ensure progress without targets, but business can?

This is dangerous nonsense.

On the same day, Nov 1, the DTI announced a £30m allocation for renewable micropower market enablement over the next three years. This level of grant aid for smal-scale renewables is less than in the last three years.

As Dr Jeremy Leggett, solarcentury CEO and member of the Government's Renewables Advisory Board, commented: "The DTI tell us there is not enough money to support renewables the way they would like. We do not accept this.

"When we look at other government spending priorities, and their scale, we ask ourselves why building amazing new industries that can safeguard a viable future for our children should come so far down the list of priorities.

"And we observe the pan- government efforts to resurrect nuclear power, with its multi-billion pound calls in perpetuity on the public purse, with what might politely be called great suspicion.

"It seems that our efforts at collaborating with this government behind closed doors have been of little use.

"We need now to say it like it is. We live on a planet that is dying as things stand because of our profligate greenhouse gas emissions. The Government accepts this. More than half UK emissions come directly or indirectly from buildings. The Government knows this.

"Renewable micropower technologies like solar PV and solar thermal offer the opportunity, in harness with energy efficiency, to cut these emissions deeply or entirely. Government ministers have said this and companies like solarcentury has demonstrated it.

"Yet just as overseas Governments stimulate their micro-renewables markets into explosive growth, our own drip feeds these survival technologies, meanwhile professing to be a leader in the fight against climate change.

"The Government has to wake up to the increasingly embarrassing discordance between its rhetoric and the reality."

Shooting without targets is dangerous, isn't it?

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