The EU has set bold new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. According to an article in The Times, the plan to cut emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 would cost an extra £33 billion a year. Carbon taxes on petrol, heating and other emissions are likely to be introduced, with the revenue reinvested in renewable energy schemes.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), has called for the policy to be implemented in a way that is fair. Rasmussen fears that higher energy prices and the pressures of economic restructuring will disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged people in Europe. The PES President added:
Coal-mine workers must receive training to qualify for new jobs, new green jobs need to be created, energy prices for the poorest must be reduced, regions affected by climate change need to be supported and green economic growth needs to contribute to more social justice, not to less.
Update: George Monbiot claims that The Times’ report on a bold new EU emissions targets is “gibberish”.
Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Climate Sock asks how we can keep climate change high on the social and political agenda.
At Progress, Andrew Pakes of SERA (the Labour Party Environment Campaign) asks a similar question. He concludes that there are three big challenges ahead:
1. We need to think about how we communicate about climate change and engage the public more. Despite our best efforts climate scepticism has taken root, not least on the new Conservative parliamentary benches. Unless we can communicate better and mainstream our arguments there is a potential toxic mix between public distrust of authority and a rightwing-inspired movement of denial. We ignore this case at our peril.
2. Tackling climate change has to be more about the effective state than the Big Society. The driving force of this new coalition is an assault on the state as we know it and a critique on government intervention. Tackling climate change and making the transition to a low carbon economy, however, requires government action and intervention perhaps more than any other issue at the present time. But we need to make that case effectively.
3. Think global, act local. Sometimes the old slogans are still the best. The international action required to shape global opinion requires a government committed to a proactive approach in Europe and fairness between developed and developing nations. But global ideas were not our problem. Our failure was that too often we became distant from local action and trapped in the prism of government. Moving forward we need to invest in our local roots and work better with other progressive groups and movements.