Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Climate - we all need to play our part

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At long last a Climate Change Bill has been included in the Queen's Speech at todays state opening of Parliament. This is a very welcome development as the issue and actions upon it will be debated. The Bill as proposed by the Government is weakened by not including annual targets for carbon reduction however. Perhaps pressure to insert annual targets can be exerted during parliamentary debate on the Bill, if that institution is prepared to assert itself.

Annual targets are very important because they are an effective means of measuring progress and of constantly reminding the Government and the rest of us that we need to make continuing cuts in carbon emissions. This is particularly important for the current Government because, despite its words of concern about climate change it has allowed carbon emissions to increase by 2% during its time in power! We cannot allow this to continue if we are to really address the problem.

Annual targets are also important for individuals, households, businesses and communities who all need to play a part. Everyone has a degree of personal responsibility and a degree of influence - we are all carbon consumers and emitters after all.

The recent climate change demonstration in London, attended by thousands, shows that apathy on this issue is not so widespread. Growing numbers are willing to embrace and advocate greener lifestyles and have called on Government to act accordingly.

There is a lot we can all do ourselves. We can stop buying products from companies who refuse to respect our planet. We can refuse to buy overpackaged products, like the swede I saw wrapped in layers of unrequired plastic. We can refuse to buy food grown with vast amounts of chemicals and flown around the world. We can stop buying goods that we dont really need, whether a green product or not, and also save ourselves money.

When we do buy we can support the more environmentally friendly sources, like the local, the organic, the fair trade. When we invest our money we can try to ensure it does not go to corporations who pursue profit regardless of all social and environmental consequences.

We can all begin to cut the rate of climate change tomorrow through what we purchase and by changing how far and by what means we choose to travel. Government has a key role to play of course, and agreement is needed across the globe for a complete solution, but if we dont all play our part, including demanding more green actions from Government then they wont act.