United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Urgent action on Kyoto needed -- Government too complacent

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The UK government has been charged with complacency over its progress towards targets for reducing greenhouse gases by the chairman of a major sustainable development advisory group. It is urging immediate action on climate change. Derek Osborn, chair of the independent Round Table on Sustainable Development, says the government's targets are not nearly ambitious enough for the scale of the world's climate change problems

In its report on the government's own indicators of sustainable development, the Round Table highlights areas in which the indicators should be "flashing red." Action is needed now to correct unsustainable trends in climate change, traffic, poverty, social investment, agriculture and waste, the report says. In May 1999 the government introduced a series of 150 environmental "indicators," including 15 key or "headline indicators."

Osborn commends this "excellent start," but adds: "In our view, more of the indicators should be shown as red for danger than the government has admitted." The government is complacent in awarding itself a green light for its progress towards meeting its Kyoto commitments. "We believe the signal is showing red not green, and that the world is proceeding at a reckless pace towards disaster. The government should set a target for much longer term reductions in emissions and take vigorous measures to promote the necessary changes in behaviour."

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