Pricked up my ears during Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party Conference last week when he referenced the fact that Britain is on course to meet its Kyoto commitments on reducing carbon emissions by 12.5% on 1990 levels by 2010. Aside from the fact that we will probably miss our commitment to the EU to reduce our emissions by 20% on 1990 levels by 2010 the whole thing is a bit of a sham. I can’t find the precise reference, but research at Surrey University has shown that  per-capita emissions in this country have actually increased on 1990 levels by 8% – the reduction in our national emissions hasn’t come because we have changed our behaviour – we’re just shifted the problem elsewhere (India, China etc).

I hope that Copenhagen will set some of these issues into sharp relief. The choice seems to be simple (a) do nothing and get used to reducing the world population to about 2bn or (b) do something about it. If the choice is (b) and we get binding multilateral commitments to reduce per capita emissions by about 95% in America and 80% in Europe (roughly what the developing world will be looking for if they are going to play ball) then you either place faith  (a) in markets, consumer behaviour/ethical consumption or (unrealistic) (b) amazing scientific innovations (they won’t come in time) or (c) heavy, invasive government regulation in all theatres of our lives.

Wish there was a mainstream politician in this country who was brave enough to talk about this stuff rather than pretending that we’re ‘doing our bit.’


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