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PRESCOTT LAUNCHES NATIONAL DEBATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

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Warmer homes, better transport and more efficient companies are ...
Warmer homes, better transport and more efficient companies are

some of the benefits the UK will reap as we meet our climate

change targets, said deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Launching a new consultation paper, Mr Prescott said that he

wanted to start a national debate on how the UK can meet its

emissions targets - both the legally binding target from Kyoto and

the domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per

cent by 2010.

Mr Prescott said:

'The UK has set the pace in international discussions on climate

change. Now we are demonstrating our commitment to action at home.

We believe that the UK can meet challenging emissions targets and

this consultation opens up the debate on how best to achieve our

aims.

'There has been far too much talk of the burdens associated with

meeting our targets and far too little about the opportunities.

The debate I am initiating today is about gain, not pain!

'Energy efficient companies are more competitive. Better

transport systems will only good for our economy, and our society.

And well-insulated homes will be more comfortable and cheaper to

live in,' he said.

'There could also be new jobs and new opportunites for UK firms

in the emerging environmental technology market. In future, it's

the businesses that gain the edge in producing quality lean and

clean products that will be winners in the global market place.'

The deputy prime minister said that we can, and must achieve our

climate change targets.

'But as we do so, we are determined that we will not introduce

measures that will damage our competitiveness, nor take action that

will have unacceptable social costs.

'The UK has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

And our targets are realistic. Since the election we have put in

place a number of major new policies aimed at reducing emissions

further.

Mr Prescott said that the consultation document identified the

scope for action by all sectors. He invited them to work together

on how best to cut emissions.

'We all have a stake in combating climate change. We must all

do our bit' to achieve our targets.'

NOTES

At Kyoto in December 1997, developed countries agreed to reduce

emissions of a basket of the six main greenhouse gases overall to

5.2% below 1990 levels over the period 2008-2012. The six gases

covered by this legally binding target are carbon dioxide, methane,

nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur

hexafluoride.

The Kyoto Protocol permits countries to undertake commitments

jointly by forming a so-called bubble'. Under this arrangement,

the European Community agreed jointly to an 8% reduction.

In June 1998, under the UK presidency, this target was shared out

between member states. The UK agreed to take on a reduction of

12.5%. In its manifesto, the UK government also set out a domestic

goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% below 1990 levels

by 2010.

The Kyoto Protocol will come into force after it has been ratified

by 55 countries including enough developed countries to account for

55% of Annex I emissions in 1990. It is unlikely that the Protocol

will enter into force before 2001. Key to achieving these

conditions is the position of the United States who require

meaningful participation of developing countries before congress will

ratify. The UK will be exploring in Buenos Aires how this could be

demonstrated.

On 16 October 1998, Michael Meacher announced a set of climate

change scenarios which have been developed under the UK Climate

Impacts Programme. The scenarios demonstrate that temperatures

could rise as much as 3 C by the end of the next century - larger

than any climate change experienced since the last Ice Age.

The government has already taken action aimed at helping the UK to

reach its targets including the integrated transport policy;

increasing the fuel duty escalator to 6% per year in real terms; a

review of what would be necessary and practicable to achieve 10% of

electricity demand from renewables by 2010; discussions with the

energy industry and others about the possibility of promoting energy

efficiency through a new Standards of Performance scheme; an

increase in funds for energy efficiency; and finally, establishing

Lord Marshall's Task Force which will be reporting shortly on the

use of economic instruments to improve the use of energy by

business.

The consultation paper launches a national debate on how the UK

can meet its climate change targets. It is the start of a process

by which ministers will take the views of key sectors and identify

the level of commitment to delivering emission reductions. It

stresses that action by government alone will not be enough - all

sectors have a part to play and action by individual firms, local

authorities and households will be critical. Government does not

have all the answers.

Developing a new climate change programme will be a complex task

- there is a large range of measures that could be used, and the

impact of these differ sharply.

The programme must be balanced and equitable, and based on

practical and cost-effective measures. The government will not

introduce measures that would damage UK competitiveness or have an

unacceptable social cost.

Discussion on climate change should not all be about costs.

Many measures will have benefits that go wider than emission

reductions - better air quality; a less car-dependent transport

system; warmer, more comfortable homes; energy savings for business

and consumers; and new jobs and market opportunities from more

efficient technologies.

The consultation paper sets out the UK's emissions baseline

and projections and breaks them down by sector. It quantifies,

where possible, the carbon savings individual measures could

deliver. It demonstrates that the legally binding target is well

within reach and that a 20% reduction in CO2 is achievable.

The paper outlines the main policy options for reducinggreenhouse

gas emissions - in the energy supply, business, transport,

domestic, agriculture and public sectors.

On current projections the UK is forecast to be about 10% below

1990 emission levels in 2010. This includes the impact of some

policies introduced since the election and the new National Road

Traffic Forecasts, which imply a reduction of up to about 3% on

previous projections. New projections are in development to reflect

other developments, including the conclusions of the Review of Fuel

Sources for Power Generation.

Emissions from most sectors are currently on a downward trend.

This is partly because of the switch to less carbon intensive fuels

in the electricity generation sector, but also due to measures in

the current climate change programme. However, after 2000 emissions

of carbon dioxide start to rise again.

The consultation period ends on 12 February 1999. After the

responses have been analysed and other related policy reviews have

been completed, the government will begin work. on developing a

new UK climate change programme. It will consult on its draft

programme in due course.

Copies of the consultation paper are available from DETR Free

Literature, PO Box No 236, Wetherby S3 7NB, tel: 0870 1226 236,

fax: 0870 1226 237. The paper is also available on the internet at

the DETR web site: http://www.detr.gov.uk

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