3 Jun 2011

Letter: cannot hear action on CO2 is impossible

Here is a letter that I sent to Stroud Life newspaper earlier this week in response to a letter calling for Britain not to sign up to CO2 cuts:

Photo: Ruscombe valley

Dear Sir/Madam,

John Parfitt calls on the Government to suspend targets to cut carbon as the US and China don't plan similar cuts (Stroud Life letters 1.06.11). It is true no nation will solve climate change alone, but the UK target while described as 'groundbreaking' is the 'absolute minimum' required. Few are confident that we will meet it. Indeed research shows the new carbon target is likely to be more than annulled by the growth in outsourced greenhouse gases.

Last week the International Energy Agency said that greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year. This puts hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach and this is despite the most serious global recession in 80 years. This is a terrifying wake up call, or at least it should be. We need serious political will, but even now our political leaders are discussing extracting the world's last remaining fossil fuels.

China's per capita CO2 emissions are much less than others. How can we preach to them when our house is not in order? The West has only managed to reduce emissions by allowing other countries to run polluting industries on our behalf. Under Kyoto, China need not cut emissions, which allows Cameron to pretend there is no conflict between green and growth. China can take the blame.

The Stern report said acting on emissions now is cheaper than dealing with the impacts of climate change. We have an opportunity to build a new green economy that takes us away from fossil fuels. We must act with other nations, but for Britain to turn back on the limited emissions targets, would be an economic, environmental and moral catastrophe.

The climate crisis is the greatest threat we face. Actions to date have largely failed, but a system that tackles climate change fairly is still possible. We have seen a short-term rescue of the economy where overnight billions were found to bail out the banks. It should never have been necessary, yet it shows what governments can do when the political will is there. We cannot hear that action is impossible. Governments can and must make it possible.

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

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