Talk about Newsnight


Do politicians have the answers to climate change?

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Sep 07, 03:57 PM

EarthTonight on Newsnight we have convened a focus group to look at how politicians from the leading parties perform on environmental issues.

US pollster, Frank Luntz asked a group of sceptics and believers how important policies on the environment were to them. We'd like to know what you think.

Are you willing to pay more in green taxes? Will environmental policies influence the way you vote in a general election?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:13 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • marika freris wrote:

I would be prepared absolutely to pay more in green taxes, as long as I was convinced the taxes would be used to combat climate change effectively. Green policies will influence the way I will vote in a general election, over-riding most other factors.

  • 2.
  • At 04:21 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jeremy Wilson wrote:

It's a simple fact that if politicians went as far as they need to go to make a difference to climate change, they wouldn't receive enough votes! There are not enough people willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make an impact, and the lack of effort by other countries may be the root of this apathy.
Also I think there is a real feeling of inevitability and helplessness about this at present.

  • 3.
  • At 04:23 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Greg Falkof wrote:

Environmental policies need to be linked in to other government initiatives - why promote both air travel and environmental issues while imposing green taxes that exclude air fuel?

The idea that green taxes are a solution to many problems is a false idea. Green taxes are a preventative measure, not a tax-raising measure. If green taxes succeed making us cut out certain 'non-green' taxed activities, once we all reduce these activities no-one will pay this tax anymore so the government's overall tax income will reduce.

If green taxes help us to change the way we consume resources, this is a positive effect - but there has been no acknowledgement of the possible effects of succesful green taxing - a reduction in government income. The London congestion charge is the perfect example...

  • 4.
  • At 04:26 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Simpson wrote:

Whether or not you're numb to climate change through over exposure or scepticism, there're many reasons to put the environment at the heart of policy making. If you don't think so, tell me about yourself and I'll think of one for you. I, for one, will be judging our parties on their commitment to the environment. If that would increase the amount of tax I pay, then I would change my behaviour so it doesn't.

  • 5.
  • At 04:30 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • geva blackett wrote:

No they don't because it is a political 'con'!

Climate has always 'changed' - every so often (seems to run in cycles) the sun throws off hotter rays which appears to change the climate and then on the opposite side of the coin, we had a mini ice age in Scotland about 200 years ago. However that does not mean we should not act responsibly and watch our carbon 'footprint'!

Successful, green taxes will either bankrupt the government, or make no difference to CO2 emissions.

I have no problem with making sacrifices when there is the slightest chance that these sacrifices will bear fruit and succeed.

But I object strongly to making sacrifices that are 100% cast iron guaranteed to fail.

The UK cannot reduce global CO2 emissions. We can reduce our own, a bit, but even IF CO2 was driving the current climate change (and there exists much scientific evidence that at most, the CO2 is very marginal on that) it is impossible for the UK to reduce global emissionsat all, let alone bay an amount that would restrict global temperature rise to only 2 degrees centigrade.

This goal of 2 degrees is some of the most ludicrous "King Canutian" delusional rubbish I have ever had the misfortune of hearing from supposedly rational grown ups.

When politicians ask me to reduce my personal consumption and pay excessive taxes so that they can keep global temperatures under control, then I know that they have completely lost the plot.

Global temperature has NEVER been under human control.

Additionally, IF human generated CO2 was driving climate change, then the solutions offered should at least look to reduce rather than increase CO2. When windmills are located at locations with very little wind, and they are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer and the amount of energy consumed in manufacturing the windmill exceeds the amount of energy produced by the windmill over its lifetime, then we know that we are being taken for a ride.

  • 7.
  • At 04:34 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ken Case wrote:

Politicians have a single solution for any problem, the complexity or simplicity of a real solution is not relevent to the process; pass more laws. That the laws are obviously not the product of a healthy mind matters not, so long as either the revenue streams are increased or the control of the people enhanced. A perfect political solution produces both desired results while fixing nothing. I pay more for things made in the U. S. of A.; one reason is that it reduces air and sea pollution resulting from transoceanic transport, another being that stuff made in other countries (with a few exceptions) is junk, and continual replacement costs more than spending money for a well made product to begin with. 'Buy cheap, buy often.' my grandfather used to say.

  • 8.
  • At 04:36 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • John Miller wrote:

We should be proactive and tax the contributors to global warning, call it aq carbon tax. Then use the money to clean up the environment.

John Miller

  • 9.
  • At 04:39 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Sean Girling wrote:

In my opinion, if I thought green taxes were fair and aimed at making us more green in our behavior, then by all means tax us. But the government wouldn't have a clue how to, on the one hand penalise us correctly for not being green, while on the other hand try to win our vote. After all, cost us money, and the other guy gets the vote. Oh dear.

Car Taxes
Look at the fiasco concerning 4x4 cars. Government wishes to tax them heavily because they're a menace and not terribly green. What? Take two houses, the guy at number 24 has a range rover that he uses very occasionally. Number 26 has a Fiesta, that he commutes 3 hours a day in, 5 days a week. Who is harming the environment more?

If we really really wanted to discourage heavy polluters, then fuel would be taxed, not the vehicle you used it in. Those who truly guzzle it, will be paying for it. But that's unpopular, surprise surprise!

Wind Farms
Meanwhile, whining country people grumble about having a wind farm near by. I'm sorry, but if you want energy, some times you have to live with the sight of it's production. Many people live near power stations.

We all know that fish stocks are dwindling; we know that we're destroying biodiversity. So stop it. Nope, that would harm the fishing industry in the short term. Long term is someone else’s problem, so let's not think about that aye?

The government wants to "look" like they're doing the right thing; but really, they want an excuse to continue making money and stability. Not a bad idea, but it flies in the face of being green. This is especially so, when the countries we're competing with have next to no interest in this subject at all.

There is no one or body of people with the power to manage any of these large problems on a world stage. And trying to combat it piece meal is both slow, difficult and expensive. Who has that political will necessary to attempt it really?

It's not all bad though, we've finally got the Americans to admit there is a problem. Ha ha!

I am certainly not willing to pay more in green taxes and environmental policies will not influence the way I vote in a general election.

Man-made global warming has become a religion but not one I follow.

  • 11.
  • At 04:44 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Christopher Oakham wrote:

I am a sceptic about human involvement in climate change. I am an engineer and my training tells me that the evidence does not add up. Worse than that, the evidence is selectively corrupted by people and groups with agendas - like politicians trying to find ways to make us pay more tax.

Thinking about our politicians, they clearly have a death wish. Only 18 to 24 year olds are swayed by environmental arguments and a large number don't bother voting.

  • 12.
  • At 04:46 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Miguel E. Santillana wrote:

I am writting from Lima Perú South America. It is very interesting that the citizens from the West are concerned nowadays with climate change and enviromental issues (down here the glaciers are melting, and we suffer El Niño and La Niña more frecuently). But do you think the consequences of your decisions for us? The latest example is bio fuels. You want to use cleaner sources of energy in your car but that means less land to cultivate food (wheat, soya beans, etc.)for the people. Food prices have risen in Latin America causing a price hype (inflation)and serious discussions about minimum wages. This political issues could be used in favour of their political agenda by characters like Hugo Chavez and his XXIst century socialism. Will you come and rescue us from this guy or you are going to be concerned only in green issues?

  • 13.
  • At 04:48 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • brossen99 wrote:

If there are to be any " green " taxes at all, perhaps the fairest way to tax environmentally unfriendly consumption is to increase the top rate of income tax. After all its the people who now pay higher rate tax who run the gas guzzlers, you already can't afford them on a low income. Likewise flying regularly, its the higher rate taxpayers who jet off to Europe or the US regularly at the weekend, people on lower incomes may only take one flight a year if any.

There is evidence to suggest that alleged green taxes are being used for ethnic cleansing of rural areas by income although this is less severe since the end of the road fuel tax escalator. Its not helped by BBC programmes like " Escape to the Country " where rural worker dwellings are sold at prices none of the locals can afford, the only winners are the rich land owners who can't wait to get rid of their tenants. Increasing the top rate of tax could also slow the house price bubble without increasing interest rates, but it wont ever happen because the parasites in the stock market would lose out on their private tax through tax avoiding investment products.

Perhaps the main problem in getting fair green taxes is the fact that all the influential presenters on TV themselves pay higher rate tax, and they are not going to be turkeys voting for Christmass.

  • 14.
  • At 04:49 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • John Wood wrote:

I would accept some green tax if I could be sure that the income is used for environmental improvements and not just put into the Treasury General Fund.

  • 15.
  • At 04:50 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Sheriff Samsideen Phatey wrote:

I don't only think but believe politics have the answer to climate change. Policies and laws can be created by State Representatives to address issues of climate change especially, global warming and polution. This should be done especially in countries that are industrialised. If this is done, issues of climste change will surly be cast into the dustbin of history and healthy environment will be recycled from the dustbin of the present day generation. This should be done for the children of this generation and even the generations yet unborn.

  • 16.
  • At 04:51 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

I don't expect any catastrophic change to the UK environment in my lifetime. Charity is usually directed at people alive today; if I see no benefit from actions to prevent climate change then it is no different from charity, except it will be for future generations' benefit. So the question is, for how far into the future should charity be concerned with?

  • 17.
  • At 04:52 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • sue smith wrote:

Climate change is just an EXCUSE to BULLY us more, REGULATE us more and TAX us more!
The climate has always changed. London was once covered in ice three miles thick. We are still getting warmer from the last Ice Age, and yet, we are still cooler than when the Romans were here. The earth has often been a lot warmer than now! Humans prospered during those times.

I suggest ALL politicians are compelled to read "The Chilling Stars" There are far better explanations than those promulgated by self-serving "experts" and general band-wagon riders whose existence relies solely on their uncorroborated "truths". Thirty years ago the "experts" warned us of the coming ice age!

Politicians will be of very little help in solving the problems of climate change. There is no motivation for them to do so, and anyway, the whole climate change thing is so big that doing anything from the UK will have little or no relevence in the rest of the planet. We should be looking at "winners and losers" in the climate stakes. What parts of the country(planet) are going to be affected, and how. Would it be possible to move large tracts of population from one place to another, where conditions would be more favourable. Or should we simply abandon large numbers of people around the globe and let (new) nature take it's course, reducing the global population and increasing carrying capacity for the rest of us?
These are not decisions politicians are ever going to make. My money is on the latter method.

  • 19.
  • At 05:01 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

And what of Green issues?...Yes I'll pay more tax...if ring-fenced.
But lets be realistic, only the Liberals will say the unthinkable!,when knowing full well they are still unelectable to full Power at the Top Table.

  • 20.
  • At 05:02 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Wendy Keenan wrote:

Environmental policies will definitely influence how I vote. Green taxes should be carefully considered. The greatest carbon emitters should pay the highest tax which should go to funding a low/carbon neutral energy infrastructure immediately.

There is too great a gap between rich and poor and addressing the climate issue is an impossibility without addressing how resources can be more fairly distributed. Personally, I will vote for a government unafraid to admit what we all know - capitalism's growth predicated model concealed from all calculations the limits of our earths resources to the detriment of life as we currently know it. This is a travesty and one we need to acknowledge and redress NOW! So, do I think politicians have the answers? No. I think they are firmly in the pockets of the monster growth model and lack the courage and imagination to bring about change. The only imaginative solutions being struggled at are demonstrated by grassroots communities, like Transition Towns and other small local grassroots initiatives around the country (eg Ashton Hayes) but funding and support is thin on the ground rather than whole heartedly supported and welcomed.


I'm the webmaster for a network of African Youths involved in voluntary sustainable development throughout the continent. Everyday I hear of the efforts these youngsters make with very little resources to try and make a positive difference. Its an uphill struggle and the problems are enormous, yet we hope that as the NAYD network expands and hands are joined the more they will be able to help each other. It makes me very angry indeed to know that climate change caused through the West's excesses will have the worst effect on the people in Africa who are the least responsible for causing the problem, and the efforts of these youngsters could be destroyed. I'm happy to pay the taxes and make the personal changes necessary to tackle climate change, but I'm not convinced that the politicians are up to the challenge to make us do it, mainly through the influence of the corporate sector and their bottom line short term profit at any cost mentality. Its going to take a Gandhi type mentality to have the guts to make the changes necessary and I question whether such a politician exists just now.

  • 22.
  • At 05:06 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jo wrote:

We all need to take a step back, clamber off the 'green' bandwagon and actually look at the issues sensibly.

There are SO many gaps in our knowledge about how damaging certain things are to the environment. Ludicrous things are being suggested such as: ban airfreighted foods. Well, we could but that would throw millions of people into poverty (at a time when we should be promoting trade over aid) and cut Britain's carbon emissions by less than 0.1%. If we ensured that ALL lofts were insulated, had a limit on packagings or used our cars less we could cut it by 20% and African farm workers could keep their jobs.

Climate change can only be slowed (and in time hopefully reversed) by farming trees, reducing CO2 pollution, investing (appropriately) in green methods of energy production and greater investment in green transport.

Green solutions include:

Nuclear, wave, wind, solar, bio fuel energies, hydrogen fuel cells, building very big catapults for transatlantic commercial gliders and most controversial of all, bringing back the horse and cart.

France discovered nuclear technology after us and is 80% reliant, yes there are issues regarding waste disposal and safe transportation of nuclear material however a fact finding trip to France, it is envisaged, could help allay or even confirm fears.

The proposals written for David Cameron indicating a freeze on all catapult expansion for commercial gliders indicates he is serious about his plans to have a direct rail link with America.

Monorail or tunnel the cost, it is argued, will be reduced if 'we ask Gazprom to dig it,' according to Tory sources, the tunnel option is 'the preferred option,' but it is understood Gazprom will be asked to make it 'a little deeper and a bit wider, thanks.'

Gordon Brown is back on the Gin however Peter St. Patrick, his drinking partner for over fifteen years, has confirmed that, not to be outdone, PM Brown will next week announce a recobbling programme and, at the same time, be asking the many religious institutions who have built places of worship in the UK to convert them into stables.

  • 24.
  • At 05:07 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Graham Rollins wrote:

There is little likelihood of my vote going to any party who believes that taxing and legislation will solve Global warming. For one thing it is still not proven that human activity is causing the present increases in global temperatures. If you pay researchers to prove something they will. I am sure if those same people were paid to disprove it they would have a dam good go. Secondly, what ever we reduce in Co2 emissions the third world would quickly compensate for.

Non of the politicians seem to make any issue on the fact that the world is running out of oil & that is likely to effect us more than this blip in world temperatures. Conserving our energy sources makes good sense; panic tactics turn me off.

  • 25.
  • At 05:07 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • anne wareham wrote:

Anything we do in this country will make no difference.
But we might start encouraging the world to have less children?
Anne Wareham

  • 26.
  • At 05:09 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Adam Rogerson wrote:

Politicians don't have the answers to climate change - that is the down to scientists, sustainability experts,and the every day person. However, politicians do have the power to create policies that encourage people to live low carbon lifestyles and prohibit heavily polluting technologies and industries, and to decide how our energy is generated. They must now use this power effectively, not for political gain, but because it is their moral duty.

  • 27.
  • At 05:10 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Greg Hiller wrote:

Of course not.

Climate change would appear to be proven to be caused by natural occurence, and can therefore not be influenced by man to more than a tiny degree.

The American NASA has directly connected all the extreme weather changes we've had, to changes in the nuclear activity on the surface of the Sun.

If there is any Earth influence, it will be mainly caused by volcanic eruptions, and the yearly recurring, enormous, months long lasting, forest fires in S.E. Asia.
Also the number of old-fashioned fires in almost every hut and shack, used for cooking and heating, all over Asia and China, might contribute.

In our countries there's nothing reasonable more left to do.

  • 28.
  • At 05:21 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Steven Green wrote:

I don't care a jot about climate change. I have lived frugally most of my life so my carbon footprint has always been small. My one pleasure is flying frequently to my other home in Spain. Why do I have to pay more for this while those who have lived (and still live) extravagant lifestyles get away with so much worse?

  • 29.
  • At 05:21 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Dr Douglas Rhodes wrote:

Climate change will continue to be proportional to population times fossil fuel consumption. USA, India and China have economies geared to the increase of both factors. The UK contribution to climate change is comparatively small and the effect of the measures being discussed by our politicians is miniscule. What is the point of us scatching the surface of an inevitable global catastrophe?

  • 30.
  • At 05:22 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

By relegating a scientific and economic problem to politicians to solve, the failure to control and reverse climate change was guaranteed. Kyoto was a poltical instrument Europeans tried to use to destroy the US economy if it complied, discredit the US if it didn't. Yet the EU failed to meet its own modest Kyoto goals of 8% CO2 reduction for some countries, in fact its failure is projected to be by over 90%. China was said to be bringing on one new coal fired power plant a week, now we learn that it's actually two yet it not only has no voluntary obligations under Kyoto, it rejects any future obligations that are manditory or which might impact its economic growth even though it is now the number one CO2 producer in the world and has the world's second largest economy. India, also a very large producer has a similar attitude. Brazil wants to be paid ransom money not to continue burning down the Amazon rain forest and America bashing hasn't worked, if anything it has stiffened resistance. No, this is for all intents and purposes a dead issue, the climate will continue to warm and the politicians will continue to produce nothing of substance beyond lots of their own hot air.

  • 31.
  • At 05:26 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Mumby wrote:

When the people who say Man Man Global Warming is the biggest threat to mankind actually do what they preach then I may take notice.

Step forward
Al "biggest(virtually) house in the USA, private jet" Gore.

Until then - no I will not pay more Green Taxes.

  • 32.
  • At 05:32 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Barry8 wrote:

Come on! We are so small a country that it is a stupid question. I
can not see how the electorate can afford to pay for GREEN things when the major countries of the world are blowing STUFF out at an enormous rate. Of course, the chancellor would be most grateful if we were willing, and able, to give a lot more to the exchequer. But a move to green would hardly be noticeable and where would the cash end up? Right,
in someones pocket! We are just about the heaviest taxed in the world
already; and with a rapidly growing number of billionaires. And M.P's
squabbling on how to cover up their
nice little 'earners'.

  • 33.
  • At 05:35 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Adam Rogerson wrote:

To all the climate sceptics - I admire your individuality and arrogance in disagreeing with over 99% of the worlds scientists. I have recently read the summary of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's 4th report, and it makes for grim reading. Politicians are not only going green to get votes - they are also doing it because they have seen the evidence - the climate is changing, and it is due to human forcing by emitted greenhouse gases. Recent studies have shown that natural temperature fluctuations would actually have caused a slight DECREASE in global temperatures over the last 30 years, rather than the increase of almost 0.5 degrees C actually observed. Its fine by me if you live in denial, i understand that you are scared, but its only going to make it worse in the long run because you are going to get one hell of a shock over the next few years.

Also you should get your facts straight before you post - as a famous economist once said - 'there are many thousands of opinions, but only one truth - so most people are wrong most of the time'. your strong opinions are all very well but they are based on nothing and could be misleading for other people who read this.

As for Green and environmental groups and governments making it up: Green groups have no agenda except to conserve this beautiful planet - if there wasnt a problem they wouldn't have cause for alarm. They have been warning the world about global warming since the 1980s, and politics and the media have only just caught on.

If you really want proof - the extinction rate of species now is a 1000 times more than previous 'normal' rates and many thousands of hectares of rainforest dissapear every day. If you want to cover your eyes and your ears thats fine, but if you are brave enough to open them you will hear and see that our planet is screaming, and until those still in denial wake up to this, we will continue to struggle to deal with this problem.

  • 34.
  • At 05:40 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Martin wrote:

Climate change is the greatest threat faced by civilisation. I will vote for the party which goes furthest towards addressing it in a joined up way. The starting point is to make this a serious priority across all government departments - something the present government has so far totally failed to do. It shouldn't have anything to do with so-called 'carbon neutrality' and nor should it be to do with so-called 'green' taxes. These catch-all phrases may be convenient but they obscure the fact that the climate challenge is far far greater than dealing with waste and other things that usually come under a 'green' banner.

If politicians had Intelligence the UK wouldn't be in the state it's in.
citizens can forsee and predict much before they (politicians) wake up.
I'm a conservationist and a recycler but don't expect me to pay extended taxes from a pension.
Barbara Norwich

  • 36.
  • At 06:02 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Marriott wrote:

How are politicians behaving? They quite clearly don't understand the science.
Am I in favour of green taxes? Not really - they won't help. What would help would be subsidies to encourage eco-friendly behaviour.
Will it affect my vote? Not at all - I just want to get rid of this awful Labour Government.

The long and the short of it is, unless we can involve newly industrialising countries with massive populations (India and China) to come on board, we are all going to Hell in a handcart in any case.

  • 37.
  • At 06:08 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Yates wrote:

Climate change is an ever-ongoing action and nothing we do is going to stop it.
The earth has always been 'warming up' and will continue to do so until the sun implodes.
The glaciers covering Europe melted without mankind emitting CO2 and the seas have always been 'rising'.
'Climate change' is a politicians dream as far as the opportunity for extra tax is concerned - hence the wide coverage. Say it enough times and people will believe it.
What we need is common sense applied to the environmental issues, not political spin.
We should really be concentrating on two 'survival' issues.
1. The sea is going to rise, so lets prepare better defences.
2. The earth's resources are not bottomless, so lets recycle more and invest in research for alternative raw materials and food.
Any taxes raised to tackle those issues should be separately accounted for so that an honest audit of the situation can be presented to the people - that'll be the day!! No chance for pet projects and political wheeler-dealing if they were.
'Climate change' spin is just another example of politicians being interested in topics that will help them feather their own nests whilst they keep the rest of as docile and lethargic as possible.

  • 38.
  • At 06:08 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ade Mason wrote:

where does this equation " if things are more expensive it will help the environment " come from ?
I think in most cases quite the opposite is true, if products, services & taxes are more expensive we will all have to work harder to earn the money for them, the way we work is the most polluting thing we do
Has anyone worked out the average pollution caused to earn an average wage ? that would be a most interesting way of assessing the environmental impact of say increasing taxes

  • 39.
  • At 06:12 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Monty wrote:

That Human activity (consumption)contributes to global warming is now generally accepted however we hear little of the fact there are a lot more of us than ever before.
There are now approaching 6.7 billion humans ( 6.0 billion at the turn of the millennium)consuming and contributing. More and more are consuming or aspiring to consume at the profligate levels we in the UK have become accustomed to.
Our British politicians can only directly influence 1% (and shrinking). It is touching that they make appeals to our altruism but sooner rather than later the vote winning positions will be focussed on energy security and proper borders.

  • 40.
  • At 06:13 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • d line wrote:

yes its easy for them tax it, same as they do with everything they dont know what to do about

  • 41.
  • At 06:19 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ainsley wrote:

I don't doubt that mankind's activities are causing climate change, but this isn't the biggest challenge facing the planet...that is overpopulation.

  • 42.
  • At 06:20 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • J. Birch wrote:

The Earth has warmed and cooled many times since time began, why do Politicians believe they can change this. The rain forest is being destroyed, they seem unable, or unwilling, to stop this and the trees are the lungs of the world.
Green tax, more like yet another sneaky Brown tax.

(1) When hundreds of scientists agree it is properly called consensus – not truth.
(2) When a valid alternative to the current consensus is offered the “peer review” system is used to suppress it. See:
(3) As for the politicians: If you can find any who really know what to do - they have my permission to tax me.

  • 44.
  • At 06:47 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

I'm just fed up with everybody believing the simple answer is to tax everything! Maybe if the Government and other bodies said "Hey let's work together on this" instead of taking money out of my pocket that I can't afford to spare, then maybe I'd have more interest in what they have to say.

  • 45.
  • At 06:47 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • shella wrote:


No - politicians do not have the answers to climate change, any more than I have! It is true that climate change has occurred throughout human history, but not usually, with such devastating and destructive effects. I have seen the documentaries about natural disasters, mainly to do with volcano eruptions, but these are just that -NATURAL occurrences - due to certain sets of circumstances colliding in some way, to produce a tsunami, or, volcanic eruptions. eg Pompeii

This is the first time really, that climate change is due to human exploitation of the planet, and, is a threat, to the continuation of life on the planet. I am not prepared to pay Green Taxes either - let the polluters pay. The politicians can only divert our attention away from the major culprits who are responsible for the disaster, by their pussyfooting around with recycling schemes, and, wittering on about sustainable development. The government can't even contain foot and mouth in its own research facilities, so how can these fools blame us - passive consumers that they have turned us into - because of their short term gain for fast buck economic policies which ignored any costs to the environment the world over. It is a good thing that we begin to implement recycling, and promote sustainable development in our everyday lives, but its a drop in the ocean compared to the industrial sector, the multi-national oil companies, and the nuclear industry, plus the whole communist block, backed by the financial sector, who are the big major polluters.

Its too late for consumer recycling schemes to make a big dent in the disasters that await us now, as the polar ice-cap thaws out, and the UK could disappear under the rising oceans. We won't be so zenophobic when we are begging countries like Africa to take us in, will we?

Scientists tell us climate change is so unpredictable that even they cannot get a proper handle on the situation. At one time it seemed that Africa would die of drought, now it is being consumed by floods! This may even bring some areas back to life, despite the havoc wreaked on people who live there.

Why should I pay for the polluters, Shell, BP and the like, big capital investment companies, whose fat cat employees earn vast sums of money, which I never see? It is a total fabrication to blame the consumer, for environmental problems, when scientists have been warning the big players about impending climatic disasters for over thirty years - laughed at as cranks! An ecologist once told me, back in 1968, that we had already done so much damage with nuclear testing underground that the disastrous results, earthquakes, forest fires and floods, could not be reversed.

What effect does carpet bombing of Iraq have on the Environment? Is it a coincidence that there have been earthquakes in Iran and nearby Turkey since the Iraq war began? Then there is the destruction of the coral reefs, killing the life of the sea, due to underground nuclear testing - who is going to pay for that? It should be those responsible, the big transnational corporations that control the underground nulear testing - the death merchants.

Right now, as we speak millions of gallons of oil is burning away because of the Iraq war; it is, and will lead to, widespread pollution in the Middle East, ending up as acid rain somewhere else. The USA is another major culprit, and I refuse to pay for their eco-vandalism! The place is awash with pollution of all kinds, while Americans carry on as normal, burning up the planets resources to keep their cities lit up at night; because their cities are so dangerous to live in, run by criminal gangs, and I mean the government, as well as, the gangs of young dispossessed troublemakers who roam the streets with knives and guns.

We have to rely on the scientists, and provide them with the resources they need, to do what they can, to salvage the situation before it is too late. If we had not embarked on the senseless war in Iraq, our money could have been spent of research and development to deal with climate change. So make Tony Blair, and all those who supported him pay!

  • 46.
  • At 06:47 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jamie Taylor wrote:

I don't mind recycling - after all it makes sense to re-use resources and not pour millions of tons of rubbish into ad-hoc holes in the ground for our childrens' children to clear up, I'd even be happy use biofuel or whatever makes the green lobby happier today. But, I'm afraid that if the woolly jumper brigade expect the modern world to just roll over, turn out the lights and buy a horse then they've got another think coming. Whatever solution it takes to 'save the planet' has to live side by side with the realities of modern, human civilisation.

  • 47.
  • At 06:56 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Noel Dobson wrote:

No I do not think that politicians have the answer to climate change anymore than anyone else does. Climate change will take care of itself as it has done in past centuries.If at the outset we had been prevailed upon to use less fossil fuels because we are using them up then I could have supported measures, however large or small, to make this happen. Instead of which we were given lots of half truths which seem largely to be an attempt to secure more taxes. Nothing that we can do will stop whatever it is that is causing the rise in global temperatures.It is some quite natural phenomena that has caused it to occur and it is absolute arrogance to spout propaganda suggesting that we caused it or that we can do anything to prevent it. What we need to do is manage the change and that is all we can do.

I do not believe anyone has the answers to climate change simply because they do not know for sure what is causing the world to heat up.

To start with all the science points to the fact that the temperature of the world increases followed by increase of CO2. Now if co2 as everyone says is causing global warming you would think that co2 would rise and then be followed by temperature increase. In fact it is the other way around.

Global warming is becoming an industry, if you can get enough people to believe in this science you can sell them on any idea or anything to make money.

As for the experts that can predict what is going to happen in fifty years time, I will believe them when they can predict with one hundred percent accuracy the weather five days from now.

There is too much hype and emotion on this issue and not enough questions being asked in my opinion.

  • 49.
  • At 07:02 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ade Mason wrote:

where does this equation " if things are more expensive it will help the environment " come from ?
I think in most cases quite the opposite is true, if products, services & taxes are more expensive we will all have to work harder to earn the money for them, the way we work is the most polluting thing we do
Has anyone worked out the average pollution caused to earn an average wage ? that would be a most interesting way of assessing the environmental impact of say increasing taxes

I would be willing to pay green taxes if regular and thorough audits were completed and released to the public.

I have very little confidence in the effectiveness of green taxes, as I do in the effectiveness of carbon offsets.

We need a fundamental change in industry: a mixture of renewables and nuclear power, along with electrical cars and biological replacements for products derived from crude oil in particular.

Bioplastics seem quite promising. That promise should be investigated further.

  • 51.
  • At 07:07 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Tomoyuki Irie wrote:

Global warmings is a precious problem.Kyoto rule is good rules. So peoples may doings save energy & paper.

  • 52.
  • At 07:17 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Vicki Pyatt wrote:

Green taxes cannot be called 'green' unless they are used in their entirity to help the search for greener fuels or the combat of the effects of climate change etc. If they are not so used, in the case of air travel tax, they become a tax on a persons summer holiday.
The more well off can thereforeleave as big a 'carbon footprint' as they wish.
When the claim is made that 'green taxes' will enable tax cuts elsewhere surely this will then just give back the funds to enable someone to afford the 'green tax' and therefore achieve nothing.

  • 53.
  • At 07:33 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • James Fenton wrote:

No politicians have not got it right.

On technical matters(or more)they are strictly only as good as their advisers.

This is just the latest "cause" or "crusade" to have gathered world momentum. The politicians have merely jumped on this particular bandwagon to try to gather popular support. They are but sheep and in truth - despite all their swaggering around and posing as experts - have but limited intellect.

It has been demonstrated that what we do on earth has but a marginal and inconsequential effect on production of carbon dioxide etc. History has shown that we are in a natural cycle which will subside by itself - resulting in the earth cooling by itself.

Drastic or uncomfortable measure are therefore unecessary.

  • 54.
  • At 07:52 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • mikal wrote:

While I believe taxes to be a blunt tool, and often unfair to the poor while not massively changing the habits of the middle class, they are a tool non-the less. The same can be said of politicians, in that they too are a blunt tool, but do have their place in the solution.
However, in terms of what we are facing not only as a nation, but a global society, is a reaching of the natural limits of the earth. This encompasses not only pollution and the environment, but scarcity in terms of non renewable resources and arable land. What is needed is not the blunt and inefficient tools of taxation and politics, but a massive cultural shift to realising the limits of our households, communities, towns, counties and nations, instead of fooling ourselves into believing that the status quo will last forever, when in fact its just a century at the very most.

  • 55.
  • At 07:56 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • David Nettleton wrote:

I have no problem with Ming Campbell's age - I'm 63 myself - it's just that his policies are superficial and third rate.

I'm an Independent Borough Councillor so may change my mind, but at present, Gordon Brown is first and David Cameron second.

  • 56.
  • At 08:04 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • mikal baker wrote:

While I believe taxes to be a blunt tool, and often unfair to the poor while not massively changing the habits of the middle class, they are a tool non-the less. The same can be said of politicians, in that they too are a blunt tool, but do have their place in the solution.
However, in terms of what we are facing not only as a nation, but a global society, is a reaching of the natural limits of the earth. This encompasses not only pollution and the environment, but also scarcity in terms of non-renewable resources and arable land. What is needed is not the blunt and inefficient tools of taxation and politics, but a massive cultural shift to realising the ecological limits of our households, communities, towns, counties and nations, instead of fooling ourselves into believing that the status quo will last forever, when in fact its just a century at the very most.
Therefore, the solution lies in the market, technological advance, and us, the consumer and the voter. The consumer and government needs to influence the market by moving it towards technological solutions to unsustainable practices, the government and politicians can do this by taxing products increasing price to take into account the actual cost of the product to the environment and/or society, and we can do this by demanding sustainable products and services, such as green power

  • 57.
  • At 08:04 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Benson wrote:

What is the point of trying to reduce our carbon emissions without tackling the root cause! The world’s population is set to double in the next 30 years, and no politicians will talk about it. As widely reported in the media recently, in the next 50 years we will have to grow the same amount of food that has been grown in the last 10,000 years. Needless to say it will not be “organic”. Your excellent report last night on the carbon footprint of a packet of Walkers Crisps shows the implications for carbon emissions.
The last time I raised this problem on your program the politicians replied that “China and India would come on board “. China is not the problem! It is a vast country and at 136 people per square kilometre is less densely populated than we are. (247 people / Sq Km).
Whatever they do will not solve the problem if they do not tackle the cause. In the 50’s the world’s population was half what it is now and we emitted half the CO2 we do today. Don’t blame the Americans, that too is a vast country and they have many tens of thousands of trees each to soak up their CO2.

  • 58.
  • At 08:12 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Alan George Morgan wrote:

In my view politicians are jumping on the bandwagon as they did with Political Correctness.

Applying green taxes will not work. Those that have money will continue to buy the car they want, fly when they want, install air condotioning and anything else that improves their daily lives. The less well off are the ones that will bear the brunt of the taxation and the overall influence on climate change will be negligable.

If we put a stop to transporting by road and air, food, flowers and many other things we are capable of producing ourselves, across Europe we would make a far bigger dent in carbon emmisions than persuading a few people to give up their gas guzzlers. Politicians will not do anything that affects free trade.

Today, the news showed pictures of the floods around the Volta River near Tamale in Ghana. A politician blamed them on Climate Change. In 1963 I was involved in getting relief supplies to Tamale that was cut off by serious floods of the Volta River. It was accepted then that the flood was a natural disaster that occurs from time to time.

Finally, has any politician mentioned the possible benefits of climate change. Higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere promoted more vigorous vegetation growth. Higher ambient temperatures mean less space heating and hence less energy and CO2 emitions. Perhaps nature might take care of itself afterall.

  • 59.
  • At 08:42 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Popo Pruthi wrote:

(1) I am NOT prepared to pay more in green taxes as I do NOT trust Government to spend it on the environmental policies.
(2) Environmental policies will NOT influence me in the way I will be voting
in a general election.
(3) What would influence me is a party who promises to election reform and Proportional Representation.

  • 60.
  • At 08:59 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Hassan Asmal wrote:

Climate Change - Yes
Global Warming - Man made - Not proven, very doubtful.

The earth's axis is changing from an oval to an elliptical one. The Northern Hemisphere will no doubt have more sun. New Zealand had snow in December 2006 - their summer. South Africa and Argentina have had very cold winters in June July this year with many places having snow for the first time in fifty years and some in one hundred years.

Greenland was 5% warmer 140,000 years ago. The warmest year on record is 1934 not 1998.

The earth has has been colder in the last nine years than it was in 1998 and is expected to remain so until 2009 by some accounts and 2011 by others with a predicted 50% chance of remaining colder or warmer thereafter.

70% of recorded global warming took place before 1934. From 1970 to date the earth has been cooler although from 1980 to 1998 it was warmer.

Is this bandwagon being hyped in order to slow the economic growth of China and India?

Another bandwagon and another way for politicians to tax us. We can then have smoke police, ladder inspection police, food police, cycling coordinators, walking coordinators etc, all employed by an ever burgeoning public sector.

Big brother wants to control us rather than free us!

A plague on their houses - I mean the political parties.

Hassan Asmal

  • 61.
  • At 09:05 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Greg Hiller wrote:

As regards climate change, well yes, it appears that we are seeing some climate change. The question needing to be answered is; is it caused by mankind, or is it just a natural occurence?

There has been climate change, both warming and cooling cycles, as far back as one can research. Even as recently as in the 1940's there was a noticeable cycle each way.

I think that one can safely assume that nature and our sun are responsible for what is happening at the momenent, as it has been for many centuries gone by.

  • 62.
  • At 09:10 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • anne pluckrose wrote:

I do not beleive man made emmissions are driving climate change,at most they are but a contributory factor.The U.K's contribution to the problem is negligable and we should concern ourselves with improving our defences against the concequences of climate change.Otherwise while we may
gain the moral high ground we will not affect the activities of the emerging super powers/poluters who will only change their ways when their own environments are affected,which they will do irespective of anything we may have done.

Our biggest problem these days is the insatiable demand for energy. Most of this is consumed in the form of electricity - a brilliant discovery which we now cannot do without.
However the vast majority of the world's electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal and all of these have been the major contributors to global warming and atmospheric pollution. In short the oil, coal and gas industries are responsible for most of our global warming and pollution problems.
Although it could not be done overnight the only answer seems to be a total ban on burning coal, oil and gas but would the politicians be prepared to grasp this thorny nettle?

  • 64.
  • At 09:42 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Cynthia Timko wrote:

I am quite convinced that man's activities are at least largely responsible for global climate change and agree with someone who said that this is a grand experiment, and if we get it wrong by doing nothing, we won't have another chance. Better to err in the other direction. Then if we're wrong, no harm, no foul, and we would at least end up with fresher air, water and nonpoisonous food (as in lead and pesticides, and better harvests due to lessening of acid rains, etc.). Absolutely I would pay "green taxes" such as higher taxes on gasoline. We in the U.S. have been getting away with murder for a long time. But carrots are always more attractive than sticks, so I would like to see more government incentives to use green technology as well. We have gradually changed our light bulbs to the more expensive low energy type and would love to have the non-working solar panels on our roof repaired (an old house) but that would require a large up-front outlay of money, as would serious insulation improvement (we've done some) and better windows-all very expensive unless you happen to be Al Gore.

  • 65.
  • At 09:51 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Hilary Burn wrote:

Environmental policies will be the major influence in the way I vote in the next election. Polluters must pay for emitting greenhouse gases. The developed world must take responsibility and lead the way in the fight against climate change; this will mean a recognition that less developed countries have a higher carbon allowance. For instance Drax Power station in the UK emits more CO2 in one year than Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique combined. In the end, we will all have to have a personal carbon allowance. Politicians look to the short term for votes, this why an independent committee on climate change is required in the Climate Change bill to be discussed in October.

Climate change is the greatest threat to life on the planet. Government politicians talk about this, but their actions are carbon-illiterate, financially-illiterate, and bear no relation to the enormity of the problems to be tackled. Gordon Brown is too afraid of the voters to take decisions that might be viewed as unpopular. He is a coward who prefers to talk climate change abroad where he knows that voters here are unlikely to hear about it.

I will vote on the basis of policies on the environment and, as a member of the Labour Party, I will be switching my allegiance unless there are significant and meaningful changes to deliver effective policies.

In any case, why focus on green taxes alone? Effective reductions in CO2 emissions require a raft of initiatives most of which need government leadership.

Just one example - in Germany, one of Angela Merkel's first actions was to announce that all German homes would be refurbished to the highest standards of energy efficiency at 5% over 20 years.

In the UK, no such programme is even being contemplated. Grants for refurbishment and for reducing the CO2 emissions from new buildings are allocated to costly and ineffective technologies, rather than to low-cost and effective insulation. No training is being provided to the construction industry to teach the skills required to create energy-efficient buildings.

  • 67.
  • At 11:05 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Steve Bowen wrote:

Politicians act as if a quick fix is possible it is not, they always go for the soft target, we are penalised for buying, currently with bi-weekly rubbish collection, most of this rubbish is unwanted plastic packaging, why are supermarkets allowed to over package with a scarce and polluting rescource, the number of prosecutions is laughable, pears do not need 3 different types of plastic wrapping to remain edible, yet we all buy them in polystyren trays with pvc tops all wrapped up in clingfilm, stop buying over wrapped products

  • 68.
  • At 11:12 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

It's all deception. A recent news item opined the decimation in hte area of the Aral Sea as a prime example of global Warming. However more than 20 years ago, authorities diverted the outfall rivers towards irrigation and it is only now these changes to the natural water flow and table have become evident, yet we are being duped into a sense of guilt. If we clean our act, we are just cleaning the air which the whole planet uses. Prevailing winds will push our clean air towards more polluting countries. These will then have nice clean air to add pollution to. In turn, we will pick up polluted air from Americas, then have Politicians and so called expertstelling us we are not doing enough, and demanding more taxes. I've yet to see a penny being effectively spent on tackling any global warming issues. If it's too hot it's global warming. If it's too cold, it's climate change. Whats it to be? One or the other!

  • 69.
  • At 11:13 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • karen brough wrote:

If you want to help the planet we must reduce our use of resources. To lessen our waste surely the marketing departments must be the first to be tackled. The amount of packaging on products is obscene. I will reduce the amount of waste in my bins only when they stop putting goods in layers of plastice i didn't want in the first place. Why should I pay extra taxes to get rid of this unecessary packaging. I think I may start to leave it in the shop.

  • 70.
  • At 11:20 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • G. Jackson wrote:

There is only one problem which can and must be addressed which will significantly affect Climate Change and the future of mankind - and that is population control. There are simply too many people on the planet - the earth's resources are running out and current predictions are of a population explosion which will NEVER be addressed for obvious reasons - it is already too late - our species is doomed to extinction

  • 71.
  • At 11:21 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ed Michael wrote:

There is an obvious problem with politicians trying to encourage people to deal with things that cause climate change - whatever the causes are.
The main reason, is surely, if it was a serious as they state it should not be problem just tackled as a political issue - shouldnt it be tackled like a World War - parties working together?
Every problem or issue tackled by a Government leads to an increase in taxation - the vast majority of their policies fail miserably whatever the amount obtained - look at the NHS!
There is little doubt that the activites of the current Government on one hand claiming to reduce climate change caused by increasing taxation are countered by giving huge amounts of monies to poorere Countries to improve their standards which must in every case increase emissions adding to climate change!
Until polticians stop acting like egotistical "oddities" (all parties) there is very little liklihood that a majority of the population will agree with or support efforts - how ever serious things become.

  • 72.
  • At 11:29 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Owen wrote:

Excellent piece by Frank Luntz tonight which confirms what I and others have been saying for ages, not least to Newsnight. People are not as gullible and credulous as we are taken for.

Cameron's posing on green issues has been seen through. I wrote to him shortly after he got the job to warn him about this but was ignored.

The things we are constantly being told about climate change and what we are going to have to do about it do not make sense. If humans are responsible for it how can we reverse it now by the tiny measures but huge taxes that are being proposed which will merely stabilise current levels if that? How can it be all down to human activity anyway given that CO2 is a naturally occurring gas and the least effective of the greenhouse gases? Why do we ignore natural variability? There is too much nonsense spoken on the subject and people are sick of being lectured about it not least by the BBC.

  • 73.
  • At 11:48 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • michael parsons wrote:

I don't believe that taxing supermarket car parking, or switching to flickering dim lighting will make the slightest difference to climate change! Personally I think the issue is largely beyond the capability of influence by mankind.

If we really want to reduce our impact on the planet, surely the biggest contribution we can make is to have less children, but this is something I have never seen mentioned! Why I wonder. Of course there is no tax to be raised, although there would be some saving in benefits.

  • 74.
  • At 12:12 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • colin taylor wrote:

The government has a carte blanche regarding global warming.They have the perfect excuse to raise taxes and demand that we change the way that we live.Upon government policies and technology,the way we live is based totally on what they offer the public.
Now,the government wants everyone to check their own lifestyles,in a bid to somehow lower ones carbon footprint.So through political decision making,based on the idea that the public are to blame for global warming,the government are holding the public at large - to ransom.
The public at large,throughout the World,are BLAMELESS.As opposed to governments and its technology,who are completely to blame,for global warming....Thats to say, that man is only accelerating what is a natural phenominum,that occurs periodically through the Earths existence.

  • 75.
  • At 12:24 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • colin taylor wrote:

The government has a carte blanche regarding global warming.They have the perfect excuse to raise taxes and demand that we change the way that we live.Upon government policies and technology,the way we live is based totally on what they offer the public.
Now,the government wants everyone to check their own lifestyles,in a bid to somehow lower ones carbon footprint.So through political decision making,based on the idea that the public are to blame for global warming,the government are holding the public at large - to ransom.
The public at large,throughout the World,are BLAMELESS.As opposed to governments and its technology,who are completely to blame,for global warming....Thats to say, that man is only accelerating what is a natural phenominum,that occurs periodically through the Earths existence.

  • 76.
  • At 12:26 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Irene wrote:

yes, and yes. We must do what ever we can.

  • 77.
  • At 01:02 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jane Hamel wrote:

Green taxes are only half the answer - people buying fuel inefficient cars and flying several times a year should be penalised, and perhaps there should be more toll roads, but the government should be making it easier for those of us who want to go green to do so. I tried to switch my electricity bill to green energy but found I would be paying £235 a year more than I am with my present deal. I am committed to doing anything I can to live a greener lifestyle, but, being on a low budget, I just couldn't afford it. The government could subsidise green energy to make it a more affordable. They could do more to support organic farming, improve the railways, build more windfarms, make public buildings less inefficient in the way they waste energy - positive measures to make green living more possible, and that take responsibility at a community level, rather than loading 'blame' on the individual.

As with so many things, ultimately the difference will have to be made by PEOPLE, not by politicians. As your programme shows, the inclination of the average individual to DO something - anything - to help combat climate change is very limited. This is unfortunate, but it is a fact of life.

The good thing is that today's facts of life do not have to be tomorrow's. For the sea-change which will eventually be required as regards climate change one could actually take a quite optimistic view: the realization that there is a problem is perforce the first step towards solving it, and your programme shows very clearly that a majority of the discussion partners are very much aware of the problem. But my fear is that, yes, your focus group is aware, on the whole, but does that mean that the average Brit is equally aware? Personally, I would very much doubt that. My impression is that both the higher and the lower on the socio-economic scale one goes, the less awareness one finds, and that on the whole the true middle classes are in the vanguard in this respect.

But again, that may just be the result of a skewedness in my appreciation of others. Fact is that over time actions can become "normal". In my native country (the Netherlands) the recycling issue was debated and settled about 15 years ago. Nowadays, the concept is completely accepted, and generally adhered to. No doubt this will happen in the UK as well (as it gradually is at this very moment), and no doubt something similar will happen with climate change and the actions people will have to start taking. This, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's viewpoint, is where the politicians come in. It will be their job to nudge the population, by gently introducing measure upon measure, working towards a reduction of the country's dependence on fossil fuel, towards a less wasteful society, towards a better understanding of the importance of nature, and of the importance of individual action. This will no doubt result in bitter pills for some, if not all, and may not help the level of trust the average person has in the average politician. But hey, that is not important. What is important, is the fact that action will have to be taken: by all concerned. Taxes may be a good instrument to disincentivize, but would need to be matched by, if not be used to fund, programmes of positive intervention. These can take the form of subsidies (although these often upset markets, by introducing unnaturally high peaks in demand, and by giving the wrong signals to sellers of the subsidized goods/services, resulting in prices which are higher than would be the case in unsubsidized markets), of education, and of stimulating by leading by example.

For example, the message of quality in building should be repeated, repeated, and repeated again: informed and demanding customers can get a builder to work to much higher standards than a building inspector ever can. But the customer has to know what to look for: education required. Councils should be required to install only streetlighting systems which can be switched to half or one third of their maximum output: nobody needs brightly lit streets at 4 am: leading by example.

At election time I would probably let myself be guided by environmental policies up to a certain point. I'd be all in favour of heavily taxing airliner fuel, of taxing every kWh of energy flared off at refineries, of paying more for petrol if road taxes were to go, and probably of all sorts of other green taxes. But other things need to be done as well: hidden subsidies should be removed. So, for example, no more red diesel for farmers: we should all learn that food costs include heavy use of fossil fuel. No more stupidly cheap electricity for mega-users. And the list could go on and on. And so could this contribution. But not today.

  • 79.
  • At 01:17 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • thomas hibbert wrote:

Politicians are only human so in an ideal world we expect too much of them in some cases and as much as they try they know as little as anyon does. at the same time in general we the public always mistruust their motives. so when they get on this band wagon it is no different from any other they ride. Tom.

  • 80.
  • At 01:19 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • thomas hibbert wrote:

same as my original comment. Tom

  • 81.
  • At 03:26 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Valerie Junge wrote:

If Marika F.(prev. comment) really believes that politicians will act positively to effect clinate change she must be incredibly naive and will simply throw away her free and precious vote. Here in Australia voting is compulsory, the last archaic bastion in the first world. We are currently being constantly bombarded with these same promises as we are virtually into Election mode. I am a British citizen as well and I follow public affars closely in both countries.There is no way that I or most other thinking voters down here would believe the promises of a greener country from a politician not even from our revered leader of the Green Party, Dr Bob Brown, who talks Green a lot but has been known to align himself pragmaticaly when it is in the commercial interest of his home state of Tasmania. We all want a greener cleaner world,I hope, but it is up to people power and responsible acton to achieve it rather than by leaving it to whichever Party is in at the moment.

  • 82.
  • At 04:36 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Pterodactyl wrote:

As an earlier writer says, climates vary. Sometimes it's hotter, producing a period in the past when the Arctic was ice-free, & sometimes colder, eg the Mini-Ice Age of the 1400s - 1800s when the River Thames froze over every winter.

The Romans grew grapes in Scotland. But it's been too cold since then, until possibly in the near future, to repeat that.

Windfarms can only produce small amounts of energy & are unreliable as sources of energy, needing conventional back-up. Converting some grain produce into an energy source will lead to significant food price increases when the world's poor already have difficulty affording their basic food needs. It will also put great pressure on the world's diminishing forest cover & the many endangered species living there.

Politicians are probably too stupid & venial to be trusted with such a difficult problem to resolve. At present, the best solution is to move carefully, avoid making any grand gestures, & allow for changes in policy as programmes grandly adopted only 2 or 3 years before to great hoopla turn out to be based on false science.

Nonetheless, reducing polluting hydro-carbon consumption & carbon emissions by & from factories, motor vehicles, offices, homes, & aircraft using new, cleaner, technology should be the aim.

  • 83.
  • At 04:46 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Valerie Junge wrote:

If Marika F.(prev. comment) really believes that politicians will act positively to effect clinate change she must be incredibly naive and will simply throw away her free and precious vote. Here in Australia voting is compulsory, the last archaic bastion in the first world. We are currently being constantly bombarded with these same promises as we are virtually into Election mode. I am a British citizen as well and I follow public affairs closely in both countries.There is no way that I or most other thinking voters down here would believe the promises of a greener country from a politician not even from our revered leader of the Green Party, Dr Bob Brown, who talks Green a lot but has been known to align himself pragmaticaly when it is in the commercial interest of his home state of Tasmania. We all want a greener cleaner world,I hope, but it is up to people power and responsible acton to achieve it rather than by leaving it to whichever Party is in at the moment.

  • 84.
  • At 08:39 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Patricia Hammond wrote:

It is us the people overall who have had the chance to ensure there is still a planet only a FEW years down the track! Political gain is all that the governments think of! It is all too late now - we should ALL have done something years ago. We have left Australia 'cos of the drought and continual inter-state fighting of who owns what river, etc. etc. Families should be restricted to one car only - ride a bus, or a bike, or walk. So hard... for the average person to TRY and do. Dear Henry Ford - the old chuggers were lovely, not today's lethal machines that get zipped up and the 'youngsters' have nothing better to do than put their lives at risk roaring around the streets, etc. They will all be either deaf and/or dead by the time they are 25. 0f course, motor racing and the mad films on tv and videos have a lot to do wit it too. Talk about sheep, we are all sheep - following one after the other..... P. Hammond - in New Zealand - where the racing cult is just as bad.

  • 85.
  • At 08:53 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Tracey M Petsivas wrote:

Green policies are important, but we should be aiming at educating people to do the right thing, not taxing them if they don't. There are already too many taxes for too many things. Plus, why does this fall on the heads of the British only, when other countries don't even have simple recycling programs, when industry makes no move to improve their emissions? The British cannot solve the global problem alone.

  • 86.
  • At 09:50 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Epimethean wrote:

Last week there was new information from scientists saying that climate change is natural. ALL of the Power Junkies ignored it...

Even if it were true, England can't effect GLOBAL emissions so what's the point of beating ourselves up?

BMW has done more to reduce emissions than any government and will continue to do so. IF an answer is required it will come from technology, not Downing Street.


Global warming? It's natural, say experts...

By BARRY WIGMORE, September 2007

Some scientists have suggested global warming is due to a natural 1,500-year cycle Global warming is a natural event and the effects are not all bad, two respected researchers claimed yesterday.
Authors Dennis Avery and Fred Singer looked at the work of more than 500 scientists and argue that these experts are doubtful the phenomenon is caused by man-made greenhouse gases.
Climate change is much more likely to be part of a cycle of warming and cooling that has happened regularly every 1,500 years for the last million years, they say.
And the doom and gloom merchants, who point to the threat to the polar bear from the melting North Pole, are wrong, the authors say.
Even if our climate is changing, it is not all bad, they suggest, because past cold periods have killed twice as many people as warm periods.

In a separate interview, Epimethean (60) from Surrey commented that the Government is clearly using climate change as an excuse to burden us with more unfair taxation. But not to worry coz Jeremy Clarkson will be taking over soon...

  • 87.
  • At 10:17 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Gill Claxton wrote:

We are taxed enough already. Adding more transparent and stealth ‘green’ taxes will do as much good as the money thrown at the NHS … nothing much.

The Newsnight Focus Group was fascinating. As a snapshot of public opinion it was excellent. Politicians should be strapped into their chairs and made to watch it. Wake up Gordon, David and Ming – you are not trusted. Accountant-led corporations that pay lip service to the green agenda also took a bashing. The reasons given for the very high level of trust in the environmental concerns of Prince Charles was revealing. “No axe to grind” is an important consideration.

The large number of posted comments here to the timely programme tells its own story.

The defining issue for me in the government’s doomed gesture to be ‘seen to be doing something’ towards Co2 emissions is wind energy.

Wind ‘farms’ don’t work - but that doesn’t stop Brown pouring huge subsidies and other sweeteners into the pockets of greedy developers (many from outside the UK). There is a feeding frenzy going on. Not a single large turbine would have gone up without the handouts. The inducements have been described as the biggest in history.

And what do we get in return? Here are some of many issues that are not hard to discover if you ignore the false wind propaganda.

1. Turbines only produce on average about 25% of rated output at best. So they must have 100% backup from conventional power stations. So what’s the point of them?

2. You will find this hard to believe. Wind turbines can only work if they draw electricity from the grid. The amount is about 50% of rated output. So turbines actually drain the grid by about 25%.

3. Because wind generated electricity is entirely random and unpredictable, it’s very hard to integrate it into the grid. This report by Christopher Booker points to major problems.

“On the evening of Saturday, November 4, 2006, a large part of Western Europe experienced a black-out due to a massive power surge from thousands of turbines in Germany into the “pan-European grid.” From Holland to Italy, it was reported that “a real catastrophe” had just barely been averted.”

4. Vibroacoustic Disease (VAD) is caused by the type of low level noise/vibration produced by large wind turbines. VAD leads to cancer, brain damage, heart disease, suicidal mood swings, pulmonary damage (children are particularly vulnerable), epileptic fits and more. Now why is this never mentioned?

5. Turbine noise ruins lives and drives people from their devalued homes. The recent government funded whitewash by Salford University has been put into perspective by the resignation of Dick Bowdler of the Noise Working Group.

“Bowdler is an expert in wind turbine nuisance. He believes that official government ETSU guidelines are flawed and are unsuitable for modern larger turbines designed to the limits of the guidelines” (Noise Bulletin May p4).

6. There has been little or no research on the detrimental affects to soil and marine organisms. Some experts are becoming concerned that wind turbine created vibration may damage the food chain which supports life on earth.

7. Turbines, when they are turning, are deceptive. The rotation looks lesiurely but the tips of a 90 metre turbine can travel at 180 mph. Birds have no chance – especially when its misty or at night. Some endangered raptor colonies have been devastated. Bats, which are supposed to be protected by law from being knowingly subjected to anything that kills them, are being wiped out in significant numbers.

8. Denmark has 30 years wind experience and has had enough. It is now concentrating on selling its turbines to other gullible countries. The actual amount used by Danes of all the generated wind electricity is between 2% and 6% ... the rest is sold to neighbours for next to nothing. And at times when there's no wind? They pay the neighbours a premium for 'imported' electricity. The economics of the madhouse.

If you want the truth, visit and

  • 88.
  • At 10:46 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alf Hartigan wrote:

Global warming follows climate change, not the other way around.

The world got hotter and colder long before the 4x4 was invented.

When the world gets hotter the oceans can't absorb as much CO2.

CO2 forms only a very small part of the gas on earth. Most of it comes from Politicians when they try to con us with more green taxes.

Once everyone has sold their big cars and all got "environmentally friendly" motors, the Government will increase the Road Tax to existing levels to compensate for the loss in revenue.

  • 89.
  • At 11:02 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • JK wrote:

My vote will have nothing to do with climate change policies & taxes.

Much of it seems to force additional costs on working families (& others), while not preventing the actions.

The only way would be forced change EG petrol cars being banned globally from 2040 etc.

I do think the publicity helps a little but it hasn't stopped me driving or flying abroad.

However, the amount of car tax I pay does influence the car i buy so at least there's that. however, if you are a high earner then an extra £100 on car tax is nowt if you are paying £30K for a 4x4....

  • 90.
  • At 12:33 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • George Wells wrote:

Politcians see the Green issue as a means to justifiable increase taxes under the pretence of saving the planet. When we decide to go back to the horse and cart maybe then we the people might save the planet. Politicians have no interest in saving the planet, keeping us under control with all the warnings of doom and dangers just keeps them in a great well paid job. With hindsight I wish I applied myself and become a Politician, then i would be getting paid to save the planet.

  • 91.
  • At 10:48 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Mc Ewan Buchan Aitchison wrote:

I refuse to accept any proposals until the prime comment is made regarding population management.

The full issue is well documented in the website and the comments made in this site seem to be almost banned by all other commentators.

  • 92.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • John Wilson wrote:

Well it seems that we all have the same opinion basically - so how come the politicians and their media control still keep trying to ram climate change responsibility down our throats. Simply because they think the general population are a bunch of thickies who can be led like cattle wherever they think fit. The Americans government is well on the way to absolute control over its masses - who believe that the moon is made of green cheese. I would never believe any politician since they have their own agenda and its usually control and money.

  • 93.
  • At 11:01 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • G Gill wrote:

From a UK standpoint only, the way to cut our Co2 is stop more uncontrolled rise in our population caused mainly by allowing high birthrate ethnic immigrants who continue to flood into Britain. It wasn't that long ago our population was about 50 Million and now in such a short space of time it's rocketed up by another 10 million with no sign of slowing down. Over the next 30 to 50 years we need aim to reduce our population back to sub 50Million people. The more people this planet has to support the more the environment will suffer. Has anyone calculated how much extra Co2 Britain is producing each year with another 10 Million people?
China has made some effort to control its population growth, (with limited success) but at least they trying. India seems to have lost all control in this area. In the African continent, the only controlling factor in population control is that most of the time is spent by their corrupt regimes in genocidal wars.
The church also has a lot to answer to as well, especially the ones that preach against birth control.
Forget the adding an extra 50mm of loft insulation phobia and get the the most polluting cause of global warming sorted out; too many people!
G Gill Cyprus

  • 94.
  • At 06:02 AM on 12 Jan 2008,
  • wappaho wrote:

hmmmm. I clicked on Afghan Madrasses and ended up here, then went back to check that's what I'd done and ended up here again. anyway, I was only going to say that I don't have my glasses on and I thought it said Afghan Madnesses! still, interesting comments 92 and 93; environmental and political madnesses all round I think.

  • 95.
  • At 02:01 PM on 12 Jan 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Rather bizarrely, Europeans (and other developed world countries with free-market economies) have been doing their level best (most dramatically over the past 40 years) to commit mass genetic suicide through their well below replacement level birth rates. Yet eve more bizarrely, activists continue to press them to raise funds for Africa and other 'developing' nations, all of which have much higher than replacement level birth rates, most having tripled in population size in teh same time that the UK has grown by no more than 25%. The latter are a nightmare to govern for obvious reasons. The celebrity activists get a lot of publicity and it earns them a living I guess..... Biological fitness is measured in terms of population size.

Conclusion: the more educable the people, the more brain-washable?

We pay enough tax already.
Can't policies ever be made without taking more money from us?
The money never reaches the aims it was taken for anyway. It just pays wages of think tanks and other petty schemes.

  • 97.
  • At 12:21 AM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Johnston wrote:

I'm so confused by the issue of climate change I'm not even sure what to believe anymore.
As for the government doing anything about it? Well I think that anything this government says is pretty much a lie or a half truth at best, so I have no faith in their ability to do anything.
I care about the environment and always have. We humans have abused the environment badly, I see no sign of that ever changing. If climate change is a reality then it's almost certainly too late to avert it. Then we will suffer the consequences and maybe in that bleak future we will finally learn to heed the cost of our actions.

No government will make any serious headway aganst carbon emissions until it is free to do so. Until it has cut loose the drag of the profit-driven corporations, who will never do anything until it is too late.

The recurring analogy with total war is very apt. This is a war for survival, and as in the total wars of the C20th, there will have to be sacrifices. How soon we realise that will determine whether the war is won or lost.

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