Individuals want more active role in climate challenge

Government is not giving the public adequate opportunity to get involved in the fight against climate change, according to a cross-party committee set up to scrutinise national policy.

Climate change has risen rapidly up the political agenda in recent years, and most individuals would like to do their bit.

But while policy now has Government moving in the right direction on the big picture, says the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee, it has left individuals and community groups sidetracked with no clear message of how best to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

In its report Climate change: the citizens’ agenda the select committee outlines why it feels that more needs to be done to co-ordinate publicly funded messages and strategies on climate change so that people are not left feeling powerless.

The committee argues that Government risks squandering the enormous public goodwill that exists on the issue by over-complicating messages and setting up a wealth of overlapping pledge schemes.

The Government’s own studies have shown that making households more energy efficient is the single most cost effective way of cutting carbon emissions.

The Committee say the Government must drive forward improved product standards to eliminate energy waste in the home and to consider taxing energy inefficient consumer electronics and lighting.

It also wants the Government to require all new houses to be built to a ‘zero carbon’ standard well before the present target of 2016 – a target already seen as optimistically ambitious by many.

Much more also needs to be done to improve the credibility of green taxes, says the report, with revenue-raising taxes should not simply be given a green wash to make them more palatable for the public.

Green taxes should be ring fenced and used to invest in other carbon emission reducing measures, he said.

Government should also allow individuals an additional green ISA allowance to invest in community emissions reductions projects and technologies.

The committee wants more incentives to encourage individuals or communities to generate their own green power which could be fed into the national grid.

Sam Bond

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