With the approaching Budget next month, environmental group Friends of the Earth are putting pressure on Gordon Brown to make a move towards making Britain a greener place, expressing concern that environmental policies should be “at the heart” of the Budget.
This pressure comes at the same time that Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband – Climate Change Secretary, and Peter Mandelson – Business Secretary, jointly hosted the Low Carbon Economy Summit, a gathering of leaders from the business sector, government representatives and other key shareholders meeting to collectively discuss the logistics of a ‘low carbon future’ and how businesses within the UK would be able to survive within this environment. Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director, commented that,
“This summit is an encouraging development, but Ministers must grasp the scale of the challenge we face. We need urgent and decisive action, not more token gestures and hot air.”
Friends of the Earth are pushing the Government to make more substantial progress towards introducing a “green industrial revolution”, claiming that investment in this sector would help form a two pronged attack on both the recession and the resulting levels of unemployment, and would also help the Government to make significant inroads into their carbon reduction targets. Additional pressure is being put on the Government to make these reductions by changing environmental practices and processes within the country, rather than by ‘buying’ carbon credits from overseas.
Although recommendations that the CCC made to the Government stated that they should be aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 34% in 2020 in relation to figures in 1990, and only increasing this to 42% once a global deal to reduce carbon emissions has been agreed, Friends of the Earth believe that the UK should be making the commitment to reduce their emissions by 42% now. They argue that in addition to being a boost to the UK’s environmental credentials later this year for the UN climate negotiations that will be taking place in Copenhagen, indications from recent scientific findings state that unless there is a reduction of at least 40% by the industrialised world as a whole by 2020, a “climate catastrophe” will be nearly inevitable.