How hot is Labour on Global Warming?

April 30, 2004 12:00 AM
Thames Barrier flood defence on the River Thames at Woolwich.

Global warming: existing flood defences are likely to be insufficient.

Cllr Nichola Harrison, Environment Executive Councillor at the City Council, has challenged Anne Campbell MP to show that Labour means business on tackling global warming.

On 27 April, the Evening News devoted coverage to Tony Blair's pledge to treat global warming seriously.

"Promises are all very well" says Cllr Harrison, "but practical action is needed. The government has two important opportunities to show it means business - by changing its mind and supporting a House of Lords amendment to the Energy Bill on the promotion of small scale renewable energy projects, and by setting an ambitious target for domestic energy conservation under the Sustainable Energy Act.

"I am calling on Anne Campbell MP to support both of these measures and in doing so to show the people of Cambridge that she cares about the environment."

Cllr Harrison has written to Mrs Campbell and a copy of her letter follows below.

27 April 2004

Dear Mrs Campbell

Energy - two opportunities for you to show your support

I am writing to ask for your support on two important matters which would assist the City Council's efforts to improve the environment through improved energy efficiency and the provision of renewable energy. Through its council housing improvement and Sustainable City programmes and the Local Plan process, the Council is doing its best to ensure that both energy conservation and renewable energy production increase in Cambridge over time. Our powers and resources are clearly limited and we are reliant on the government to provide the right framework to enable this work to expand and develop.

The first issue relates to the Energy Bill. You may be aware of an amendment recently passed in the face of government opposition in the House of Lords, of which I enclose a copy. It recognises the importance of renewable energy production at the micro-scale, by individuals or small groups of householders or businesses, and requires the government to take action by producing and implementing a strategy for microgeneration.

I am sure you will agree that Cambridge residents would wish the government actively to support and promote microgeneration of renewable energy and I hope you can assure me that you will support the amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

The second issue is that of the domestic energy efficiency "aim" which the government is due to set under the Sustainable Energy Act. It is most important that this "aim" is set at the level promised by last year's Energy White Paper, ie a 5MtC saving by 2010 and a further 4-6 MtC saving by 2020. These targets are reasonable and necessary, but there is evidence (for example, in the evidence given by Brian Wilson to the Environmental Audit Committee and other parliamentary statements by ministers) that the government is backtracking from making a proper commitment to them and may set a target as low as 5MtC by 2020.

Following publication of the White Paper, a lot of warm words were printed in the newspapers about the government's commitment to energy issues. I hope you share my view that local communities are entitled to expect the government to keep to its promises on such an important matter, and that you will therefore press ministers to confirm the targets set out in the White Paper.

What would you like to do next?