United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Gummer goes global

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The prospect of imminent climate change appears to have been taken to heart by Britain's Environment Secretary John Gummer who nowadays is to be seen in the vanguard of the crusade to control greenhouse gas emissions. "Global climate change needs global action now," he told ministers from all over the world in July who were gathered together in Geneva for the UN Convention on Climate Change. Gummer told the conference that the UK is to improve on its Rio commitment by 4-8%. "That is better than most, but it is still not good enough." He forgot to mention, however, that Britain's happy position is less a result of planned action, and more a result of the unseemly "dash for gas" -- an unexpected by-product of UK electricity privatisation and not deemed as a long term solution as gas is finite. Gummer put forward a seven point plan to reduce emissions. This included removing subsidies on fossil fuels, improvements in energy efficiency and a tax on aviation fuel. Notable by its absence from the plan though was a call for greater deployment of renewable energy. Gummer is known to be, at best, lukewarm in his enthusiasm for wind energy. In early July he turned down a wind farm proposal after he had ordered a public inquiry into the scheme at Worthyvale Manor in north Cornwall. His rejection of the plans overturned an earlier decision by the local planning authority to grant consent for the wind farm.

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