Conservative Party leader David Cameron's recent announcement of his support for the Climate Change Bill, shows that Labour has a long way to go both nationally and locally to catch up in the 'carbon credibility' stakes.
The Climate Change Bill, which would oblige the government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 3 per cent each year, would form the basis of a framework of policies to reduce greenhouse emissions. Whilst Mr Cameron and Friends of the Earth have called for the Bill's entry into the forthcoming Queen's Speech, the government (and our South Shields MP David Miliband) has so far failed to comment on it, despite the Bill enjoying the support of 380 MPs across the house.
Equally alarming is that South Tyneside Council's Labour cabinet has chosen to adopt a policy which aims for a reduction in its carbon emissions of only 5 per cent over 5 years. The target, set out in the Council's Carbon Management Strategy and Action Plan, is well below what other councils have already achieved.
I suppose a nice low target is easy to achieve, and once met can show the voters just how 'great' the Council is at dealing with climate change.
In typical spin-tastic style, the South Tyneside council leader Councillor Paul Waggott, whose cabinet rubber stamped the pathetic Carbon Management Strategy and Action Plan, has tried to claw back some credibility with a feeble claim that the council already uses a (single) "council vehicle powered by electricity." This is hardly ground breaking technology, which can be attested by the many milkmen in the area who have used electric floats for years.
Of course, South Tyneside Council has made significant inroads into reducing it's greenhouse emissions, with the Middlefields wind turbine and the Temple Park centre energy savings, but to achieve real reductions there needs to be a realistic and challenging target to aim for. The planet doesn't have time for political apathy.
We need big cuts in carbon dioxide. Correspondingly, we need big targets.
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