Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Brown fails the environment - again

Despite his promises to make this year's Budget a 'carbon budget', Chancellor Gordon Brown has failed yet again to provide an adequate Budget response to the threat of climate change. In summary, he will:
  • Freeze fuel duty increases until September
  • Apply a zero road tax rate for the "most environmentally friendly" cars and a new rate of £210 for the 1% highest carbon emitters
  • Retain home insulation grants to ensure a quarter of a million extra homes would be insulated over the next two years
  • "Plan to" index the climate change levy in line with inflation from 2007 to cut CO2 emissions further
  • Set up a new £1bn energy and environmental research institute, funded by government and private industry
  • Introduce new incentives for piloting smart metering and a new labelling scheme for energy efficient goods to make homes greener
He failed to:
  • Take any steps to curb the increase of emissions from the growth in aviation
  • Introduce nationwide council tax rebates and cut stamp duty for low-carbon, energy efficient homes to encourage householders to be more energy efficient, and install micro-generation systems
  • Reduce VAT on home insulation
  • Introduce tax breaks, grants and other incentives for householders to install micro-generation systems
  • Set an annual carbon budget
Environmentally, his Budget is a failure.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Don't do as I do

On the same day, Prince Charles claimed that climate change is the world's greatest threat. Whilst even the greenest of us suffer from pangs of guilt over our lifestyles, the Prince seems to be oblivious that such a statement from a man who flies everywhere, and drives guzzling Aston Martins, has a hint of hypocrisy.

Good day for good laws

It's great news that the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill passed its reading on Friday 17th March and finally looks like it is passing up to the House of Lords. This Bill will make it simpler for householders to fit microgeneration equipment like solar panels, domestic wind turbines, and combined heat & power units (CHP), and connect them to the grid to sell surplus electricity to wholesalers. This would mean that each home (and business) could become energy generators, reversing the trend to large remote sites. The Bill will also require Government and local authorities to implement, and measure the effectiveness of, strategies to combat climate change.

My MP (South Shields), David Miliband, couldn't attend.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Press pedal power

Tyneside newspaper the Journal quoted two extreme organisations in its article ‘Police, Camera, Crash’ on 6th March. It's clear that the newspaper has it’s own anti speed camera agenda.

The paper described the Association of British Drivers as 'a leading motoring group', which seems odd, as it isn't clear in which field the lobby group is leading. It certainly isn't membership as the ABD has less than 5,000 paid up members - a tiny proportion of the UK's 31 million drivers. It can't be in common sense as the ABD portrays climate change as a conspiracy. It isn't road safety as it campaigns to increase speed limits and classifies 20 mile per hour Home Zones as having "unreasonably low speed limits". The ABD is so rabid that it praised the prosecution of a nine-year-old road accident victim in Switzerland. Sensibly, the case was dismissed.

The Journal also quoted ABD affliliate Paul Smith. His ironically named "Safe Speed" organisation follows pretty much the same old anti speed camera pattern. The poor chap seems to have squandered years seeking in vain for proof that speed cameras make roads more dangerous.

It's a pity that in the interests of balance the Journal failed to get opinion from the likes of to Transport 2000 or Road Block to at least try and present an unbiased picture.

Instead of being the 'Voice of the North, it looks the Journal is happy being Voice of the Driver.