KAI RYSSDAL: Britain might become the first country in the world to set hard and fast targets for tackling climate change. Under a bill unveiled today, the government commits itself to cutting carbon emissions by 60 percent by the middle of the century. From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports.
STEPHEN BEARD: For a prime minister who is planning to leave office soon and is searching for a positive legacy, today’s announcement was a gift. Tony Blair was able to pose as an eco-pioneer.
TONY BLAIR: Today Britain becomes the first country in the world to agree legally-binding targets for reducing carbon emissions — reported on annually — which will allow us to set out clearly how we meet these ambitious goals.
The goals are ambitious. A 26-percent cut in Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and a 60-percent reduction by the middle of the century.
Environment Secretary David Miliband insists this will be possible as Britain develops into a low-carbon economy.
DAVID MILLIBAND: You’ll see much more renewable energy. And in respect of transport, I think you’ll see that the hybrid vehicles, the electric vehicles are actually much more common, cutting carbon emissions further.
That’s the vision. But energy experts say that to cut emissions by 60 precent, the Brits have to scrap all their domestic appliances, rip out their central heating, give up foreign holidays and get rid of their cars.
Ruth Lea of the Center for Policy Studies says the new bill could be a disaster. RUTH LEA: Many other countries will not follow suit. China won’t. India won’t. The United States probably won’t. Our energy costs will probably go up relative to others. In other words, we’ll lose economic competitiveness.But Tony Blair said today, “Climate change is the gravest threat facing the planet.” He wants Britain to take the lead in tackling it — although he won’t be around to pick up the economic pieces.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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