His consultation document illustrates how government itself, companies and individuals can all reduce emissions now.
The government's main tool so far for getting emissions from vehicles down is the fuel duty escalator, a commitment to increase the tax on petrol by at least five per cent a year above inflation.
Three other measures that are in the pipeline are the EU's recent agreement with carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars by 25%; the package of local anti-congestion measures proposed in the recent transport white paper; and stricter enforcement of speed limits.
It is believed, however, that Tony Blair is not keen to attack the car user and the proposals may not be included for legislation in the forthcoming queen's speech. Asked about it yesterday, Mr Prescott said: 'We cannot say what is in the queen's speech until the queen gives it. I am sure there will be legislative time for all our policies and proposals.'
The consultation document as says government departments, the NHS, quangos and local authorities can all cut their energy use. Carbon dioxide created by this sector will grow slightly by 2010, largely due to increased use of electrical appliances and air-conditioning, but methane emissions are expected to fall sharply, perhaps by as much as 40%, through better waste management.
The government is inviting comment from all interested parties, and will produce a formal UK climate change strategy in time for the ratification of the Kyoto treaty (probably after the year 2000).
Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director for Friends of the Earth, said the document was very positive, but added: 'One thing that's missing is road traffic reduction. They can't do thier 20% target until they realise that they have got to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads. At the moment they are just trying to slow down the rate of increase.'
- see LGCnet (27/10/98) `PRESCOTT LAUNCHES NATIONAL DEBATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE'