Thursday, January 26, 2006

No more party-political bitching? We might just get somewhere!

Today, five political parties have signed up to a joint agreement on the need to tackle climate change together. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the DUP together representing 276 Members of Parliament, have put aside party differences to develop policies on "the most serious threat we face". The Labour Party has been invited to join in this approach, but has so far declined to do so.

The Joint Statement, published in the week when Government statistics revealed that UK C02 emissions are again rising, accepts the scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change, and asserts that normal politics are not delivering the action needed.

They therefore propose the establishment of an independent body, outside the political domain, with a long-term remit to:

*Set binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and monitor progress;

*Advance measures to achieve year on year cuts in emissions;

*Publish an Annual Report on its findings; and

*Develop policy in the light of changes in scientific knowledge.

The Parties have also pledged to work together on specific policy proposals.

Commenting on the initiative, Shadow Environment Secretary, Peter Ainsworth said:

"Two issues are quite clear: the threat of climate change is real and potentially disastrous; and current policies to tackle it are not working. To get effective action we need to suspend normal politics, find agreement wherever possible, and commit to robust long-term policies which can survive electoral cycles.

"I am delighted that we have been able to achieve so much cross-Party consensus so far; but it is undeniably a weakness that the Government has so far refused to sign up. I sincerely hope that they will think again and meanwhile I look forward to engaging in discussion with MPs from all parties who share our belief that finding a way forward on this issue ought to be placed above party politics. Of course we will not always agree on the detail, but we owe it to our children, and to generations to come, to agree on the direction we need to take."

Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper said:

"This is an extremely important political initiative. Climate change is the biggest threat faced by humanity. By introducing a legal framework to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions every year the UK can play a major role in showing the rest of the world the way towards developing a low carbon economy. We hope that the Government will join the political consensus for a safer and cleaner future. "

Head of climate at Greenpeace, Charlie Kronick said:

"If this initiative bypasses politics-as-usual to deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace gives its full support to the Cross Party Consensus on Climate Change."

Ron Bailey, Partnership Organiser of the Sustainable Energy Partnership said:

"All SEP members will be very pleased to hear about this important initiative which brings together parties across the political divide to agree the measures necessary to combat climate change

We particularly welcome the proposal of a new independent body with a remit to set binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions and to publish a report on their findings with an annual debate in parliament. The Partnership is unanimously behind this and hopes that the Government will support it too."


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