Cutting greenhouse gases will need action as well as words

Petrol has dropped below �1 a litre - but is that such a great thing?

Petrol has dropped below �1 a litre - but is that such a great thing? - Credit: Gregg Brown

It is good news that the world leaders have finally come up with some kind of agreement aimed at – eventually – reducing the amount of carbon we push into the earth’s atmosphere.

But I am slightly worried that we seem to be getting very mixed messages about the nature of what is needed – and the part that we all need to play in reducing carbon levels.

Firstly let me address the vexed question of climate change sceptics. I know there are some people who dispute whether climate change is happening – and whether human activity is responsible for it.

From what I have seen they are in a tiny minority, and almost all their arguments are based on politics rather than scientific evidence.

I’m sorry, but I regard the views of hard-line climate change deniers as being about as relevant as those of the Flat Earth Society!

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But even among those who accept the existence of man-made climate change, there are many who seem anxious to avoid taking any action that might be inconvenient.

The new British government – as opposed to the coalition government that ended in May – seems to have decided it is not worth spending money on green initiatives.

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That means there are not the very welcome financial incentives that would have seen solar panels fitted on the roofs of homes in Ipswich.

The government has also made it clear that it sees no future for onshore wind farms. I know there are places where they can disturb residents – but perpetuating the myth that turbines are some kind of 21st Century blot on the landscape does green energy no good.

Another issue that needs careful consideration is the cost of the fuel we put in our cars, vans and lorries.

There seems to have been general joy at the news that a litre of unleaded now costs less than £1 in some supermarkets. But is that really such great news?

I know it’s good for the bank balance today – but will our grandchildren and great grandchildren be thanking us at the end of the century if the climate has changed irrevocably?

The chancellor has made great play in recent budgets that he is not putting up fuel duty because the price is going up.

Now that the price has come down, isn’t now the time to put up duty to send a message that there is a cost that we have to pay for driving around in our personal vehicles?

Nothing puts the brakes on the use of petrol or diesel more than putting up the cost of the juice we put in our vehicles.

Or will the chancellor continue to turn a blind eye to the long-term consequences of his decisions and just go for short-term measures in a bid to gain personal popularity? After all those affected in the long-term have no vote today!

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