Sunday, February 1, 2004

Letter: Time for action on climate change

Letters Page Article to Sheffield Star (February 2004)

Time for action on climate change

On February 16th the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect. This is the only serious international attempt to address the problem of climate change and aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases through a series of targets for each country. Scientists now estimate that we may pass the point of no return in as little as ten years, at which point a significant rise in global temperatures is inevitable and the risk of abrupt, accelerated and run-away climate change increases. The time for action is clearly upon us, so what are we doing here in Yorkshire?

Our region has a target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. Yet according to the environment agency emissions in this region have increased by 1% on the 1990 level. This is unacceptable, we must do more to accept and address our responsibility for what the Government’s Chief Scientist has said is a greater threat to the world than global terrorism.

What can the people of Yorkshire do while we wait for our politicians to get their act together? Here are a few simple suggestions:

· Don’t use Robin Hood International Airport when it opens, but holiday in the UK instead. Aviation already accounts for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions and is predicted to rise to 15%.
· Use the car less: avoid unnecessary journeys, cycle or walk for short trips. Transport is the fasts growing area of greenhouse gas emissions.
· Support local wind farm applications. Wind energy is one of our greatest resources – let’s use it!
· Change to a “Green Energy” tariff that is recommended by Friends of the Earth, such as Good Energy or Green Energy 100. This promotes the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and biomass.
· Don’t waste energy: insulate your house properly, turn off lights and electrical equipment when you don’t need them and use low energy light bulbs.

These simple changes won’t cause you any great hardship and may bring some unexpected bonuses: less time stuck in traffic jams, lower bills, and a chance to discover our beautiful country!

Previous generations gave us great legacies, such as freedom, democracy, the NHS and the welfare state. Climate change will be our legacy to our children, unless we act now.

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