19 Feb 2009

Response to national councillors magazine regarding UK emissions

Here is my response to a councillor in the councillors national magazine published by the Local Government Association - I am dismayed by the number who seem to try and diminish the need for action on climate change.

Photo: view across Ebley from Far Westrip

Cllr Basil Ratcliffe (Con) suggests that Britains' carbon emissions are 2% and therefore "whatever we do, although perhaps an example to others, will have no measurable effect on the world situation" (first letters). In fact the 2% is a myth as it fails to reflect the UK's economic impact. As Christian Aid showed, adding in emissions from UK-funded operations in other countries, would raise the UK's share of the global total from 2% to about 15%.

Emissions from international aviation, shipping and importing cheap goods are not included in a country's greenhouse statistics, so the UK can claim greenhouse gases are falling. Yet how can we really hold China and India responsible for emissions from manufactured goods they sell to us? It is surely only fair that we should pick up our share of the real environmental costs of doing global business?

Indeed only when we confront the issue of the UK's "carbon omissions" can we really expect other countries to play their part in tackling climate change. The UK is rightly committed to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, but in reality there is no way this target can be met without radical changes in Government policy. The UK has to vastly increase its efforts to stop climate change from taking away the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. As councillors we have a key opportunity and responsibility to help make those necessary changes.

Cllr. Philip Booth (Green party),
Stroud District councillor for the Randwick, Ruscombe and Whiteshill ward,

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