London Mayor Says U.K.'s Climate Change Bill Should Go Further

London Mayor Says U.K.'s Climate Change Bill Should Go Further

Enshrining a national commitment to reduce carbon emissions in law is a good start but does not go far enough, according to London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Speaking as the Government's draft Climate Change Bill went before Parliament, Livingstone argued that yearly targets were necessary to keep a sharp focus on the issue and should move towards personal carbon allowances to encourage individuals to make the necessary changes to reduce their own contribution to climate change.

"I welcome the publication today of the government's draft Climate Change Bill, which will make Britain one of the first countries to enshrine tackling climate change in legislation -- just as London last month became the first major city to publish a comprehensive plan to cut carbon emissions," he said at his weekly press conference.

Livingstone said that the U.K.'s climate bill, coupled with the European Union's recent decision to set binding targets for reducing emissions, means that serious action to avert climate change has begun .

"The inclusion in the draft Climate Change Bill of proposals to widen carbon trading is welcome. As Nicholas Stern pointed out, climate change is perhaps the greatest ever example of market failure. Reflecting the true costs of carbon emissions in the price of goods and services is the key to incentivising behavioural change and innovation to avert climate catastrophe.

Livingston wants to see the government take two further steps to make the bill more effective. "First, the Bill should set annual targets for emission reductions. Second, it should move towards personal carbon allowances, whereby the majority of people who are willing to live in a way that minimises carbon emissions receive financial rewards for doing so, paid for by charging those people who wish to continue to make large carbon emissions."

The mayor also believes annual targets are needed, because they would allow any problems to be nipped in the bud and keep carbon emissions at the forefront of political minds. Otherwise, he warned, they could just be forgotten for five year stretches then crisis-managed as the next deadline approached.

"We aren't meeting long-term targets and I think we need the discipline of setting a target each year and achieving that," Livingston said. "A sharp debate each year on whether the Government has met these targets is needed. These are huge shifts we have to make and coming back every five years or so really isn't adequate."