Thursday, September 13, 2007

MPs: government should help citizens 'do their bit' on climate change

Guardian (Environment): The government is effectively preventing ordinary citizens from engaging in the battle against climate change, a parliamentary committee said today. MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee said the government needs to increase its use of green taxes and introduce policies such as a feed-in tariff for any electricity people produce at home with solar panels or windmills and feed into the grid.

In its report Climate Change: the Citizen's Agenda, the committee concludes the government is doing little to help the many individuals and community groups keen to make an effort to tackle climate change and cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The committee believes 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 to 'do their bit'. It points to government studies which have shown that making households more energy efficient is the single most cost effective way of cutting carbon emissions. For example, standby power now accounts for 7% of household electricity and leads to 3m tonnes of carbon emissions in the UK every year.…Specifically, the report recommends:

:: A strategy to help local authorities develop local greenhouse gas reduction programmes.

:: Building regulations to be made more demanding so that consideration must be given to incorporating renewable technologies, such as solar thermal systems, as part of planning applications.

:: A stamp duty rebate to home-buyers who improve the energy performance of their property within one year of purchase.

:: More informative energy billing within a year so that consumers are aware of how much energy they are using.

:: Much more ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets for energy suppliers - the existing targets are far too undemanding.

:: The government must lead by example and improve the energy efficiency of public buildings and infrastructure, with Defra itself leading the public sector by its own example.

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