As the world’s press report about the melting of the great Greenland ice sheet, which has produced a new island off its coast, a major new campaign that aims to help individuals cut their personal CO2 emissions has been backed by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Environment Secretary David Miliband.
The Climate Group’s ‘We’re In This Together’ Campaign brings businesses, Government and communities together, and provides practical ideas for how individuals can reduce their CO2 footprint.
The Prime Minister and Mr Miliband attended the launch of the campaign in London, where eight major businesses set out steps they are taking to help people reduce emissions.
The Prime Minister and Mr Miliband stressed that the campaign would complement the Government’s drive to tackle climate change both domestically and internationally.
The Prime Minister said:
“I fully support this inspiring and groundbreaking campaign. The Government will continue to give a lead in tackling climate change both at home and internationally to reduce emissions globally. By working together – as individuals, businesses and nations – we can meet this challenge and safeguard our way of life and our planet.”
David Miliband said:
“Climate change doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re a business, a Government, or an individual, it is a threat to us all and therefore a challenge for us all. “I believe that collectively we can meet this challenge and the Government fully supports the campaign being launched today.
“As part of the wider effort, Government also has to empower individuals to make the right choices to reduce their CO2 footprint, influence other nations to join the global fight against climate change, and get its own house in order.
“We are absolutely committed to tackling climate change on all these fronts and are putting in place the policies to deliver on this.”
Steps the Government is taking to help individuals reduce their CO2 footprint include:
• A new CO2 calculator – due to be launched later this spring, it will enable individuals to calculate their personal CO2 footprint and provide suggestions for the action they need to take to reduce it. The Climate Group will help trial the calculator.
• Assistance to help people in fuel poverty insulate their homes and install more energy efficient boilers – 1.3 million households have been helped with this so far.
• £3 billion in energy improvements for households since 2001 – through the obligation for energy companies to provide efficiency improvements for their customers, including low-energy light bulbs, insulation, and high-efficiency appliances and boilers.
• Phasing out inefficient light bulbs and removing inefficient white goods from the market.
• Introducing energy audits for homes and businesses – The Energy Saving Trust has carried out 4.5 million home energy checks since 1993, with 450,000 in 2006 alone. The Carbon Trust has given practical advice and tailored support to approximately 10,000 businesses through energy audits, carbon management services and energy efficiency loans.
• Engaging the public – an Act on CO2 campaign has been launched to help make individuals more “CO2 literate”, part of this will be an Act on CO2 deal which will set out how the Government and individuals can work together to reduce CO2 emissions, to be discussed at a forthcoming citizens’ summit.
• Introducing a code of best practice for offsetting – this will enable people to make informed choices about the most effective offsetting products on the market.
The steps Government is taking to improve its own record and that of the wider public sector include:
• Making Government buildings more energy efficient – by ensuring buildings and products procured by Government are energy efficient.
• Low carbon schools – every secondary school in the country is being rebuilt and refurbished and, as part of this, £110 million over the next three years will go into helping them reduce their CO2 emissions, in some cases up to carbon neutrality.
• Using low-carbon technologies – many government departments are now piloting energy efficient lighting and phasing out inefficient light bulbs and there is an increasing use of renewable energy, including biomass boilers, solar panels and wind turbines, in Government offices.
• Reducing the environmental impact of Government travel – all air travel by ministers and officials is already being offset and we have committed to reduce CO2 emissions from road vehicles and to lead the way in reducing CO2 emissions from the Government car fleet.
All this action is backed up by a new Climate Change Bill that will lay the foundations for moving the UK to a low carbon economy. The bill, which has been published in draft for consultation, sets out a series of clear targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions – including making the UK’s targets for a 60 percent reduction by 2050 and a 26 to 32 percent reduction by 2020 legally binding.