Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Richard Swann (U10)


  (A)  A new or enhanced policy to increase public awareness of climate change, its implications and mitigation is required if emission targets are to be met. Facilitating better public recognition of existing and future mitigation activities by explicit climate change labelling, and publication of the top 10 personal mitigation actions for families, may usefully contribute to more effective public awareness.

  (B)  The Government should use its chair of G8 to influence governments not accepting the Kyoto targets. The Government should seek to persuade them of the urgent necessity for global action to mitigate climate change, and the need to reduce their CO2 emissions.

    1.  To keep the United Kingdom on track in reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires a new or enhanced policy to increase public awareness. The publicity needs to result in people changing the habits of a lifetime, and implementing personal mitigation measures. Developing a suitable programme may necessitate preliminary research as well as additional funding.

    2.  There are many activities being undertaken by local authorities and other organisations which are not self evident to the public as being mitigation or adaptation actions. Awareness would be increased if there was some common national or regional labelling or logo such as a "smiley earth". Labelling all these activities would repeatedly remind us of their underlying purpose of responding to climate change.

    3.  There are a variety of publications suggesting things to do to reduce energy use. It might be helpful if a "top ten" list of the most effective actions that we could personally undertake to reduce CO2 emissions could be identified and made widely available. Compiling the list would require not just ranking by reduced carbon dioxide emission levels, but also need a judgement of how likely individual measures would be implemented by the community. This judgement would help to ensure that the measures suggested were more likely to be accepted and would achieve a substantial reduction in overall emissions. By contrast, just valuing measures by reduced emission levels might lead to the selection of a "top ten" which were less acceptable to the community, and achieved a lower net reduction in emissions. This "top ten" would periodically need review as the community's evaluation of climate change altered with increased acceptability of mitigation measures.

    4.  The publicity should make clear the value of individual actions, the effect of which rapidly accumulates when undertaken by many within the community.

    5.  With respect to the Government's role as chair of G8, a prime role should be to attempt to persuade "non-conforming" governments of the reality and overwhelming importance of climate change as a potential global threat, and the need to undertake mitigation measures to achieve Kyoto targets or better.

30 September 2004

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