Wednesday, March 14, 2007

British leadership on global warming

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's an impressive initiative from across the pond (from where I am):

Britain on Tuesday became the first country to propose legislation setting binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions as it stepped up its campaign for a new global warming pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

In its draft Climate Change Bill, the government said carbon dioxide emissions had to be cut by at least 60 percent by 2050, set out five-year carbon budgets to reach the target and created an independent monitoring committee to check annual progress.

I haven't yet looked into the details of the legislation -- both opposition parties, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, find the bill flawed but generally approve of it -- but it seems like a good start. And possibly more. Possibly the start of an international effort to follow Britain's lead.

Conservative criticism has focused on the timing of the targets, not on the essence of the legislation. Conservatives prefer annual targets to "five-year carbon budgets". But Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth still expressed his support: "We have been calling for a Climate Change Bill and today's publication is a welcome step forward." And his party is with him: "[Conservative Leader] David Cameron has pushed climate change to the top of the political agenda."

Yes, there is consensus not just in the scientific community around the world but across the spectrum of British politics as well.

The right-wing, business-friendly Telegraph was not amused, but see The Independent and The Guardian:

Something of the spirit of 1997 surrounded yesterday's publication of the climate-change bill, a sense that politics can still hope to change the world for the better. A government whose confidence is rotting after a decade in power, that is stuck in Iraq, worried about public-service performance and today facing a big parliamentary rebellion over nuclear weapons, is putting forward legislation of tremendous potential and ambition. It is doing so partly on grounds of crude politics. It has to compete with a Conservative party determined to make the issue its own, as well as Liberal Democrats who say that it was always theirs. But the government also knows that attempting to limit climate change is the right thing to do. The bill represents a response to a threat which is real and growing, and which will change human existence as people now understand it. There can be no nobler challenge for politicians than this.

Brilliantly put. I could not agree more.

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  • Interesting trends in Britain and here in Canada even if it is just (sometimes empty) political oportunism. Conservatives conserving the environment? How novel and dare I say, how truly conservative.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:20 PM  

  • It is good step which should be taken by every country. The decesion taken is late but it is good that someone take the initiative & make legislation related to greenhouse gas.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 AM  

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