Ten Quick Questions With Colin Challen, MP About Climate Change

As the damaging effects of the floods become clearer, a question resonates among people’s minds. “Should there be legislation to tackle climate change?”

Today the Environmental Audit Committee’s Report, ‘Beyond Stern: From the Climate Change Programme Review to the Draft Climate Change Bill’ was published, so we thought we’d like probe it a bit more and get it from the “horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

Colin Challen MP sits on the Environmental Audit Committee’s board and is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group. He has been the Labour MP for Morley and Rothwell since 2001 and has been described as the Labour Party’s ‘lead green thinker’. So we thought we’d ask him a few questions…

Colin Challen by ennvironmental graffiti. a UK based environmental graffitiWhy do we need legislation to act against Climate Change?

To set binding targets and to give a clear indication of our direction of travel over a longer period, to provide stability in people’s expectations

What is your opinion on the current Climate Change Bill? Do the 60% reduction figures for carbon emissions by 2050 go far enough?

60% in my view is not enough – what the bill needs to do is state the formula at which we arrive at the correct target so that everyone can see what our methodology is – Contraction and Convergence is the framework that makes sense

If the 26-32% reduction figures of carbon emissions by 2020 are legally binding and the targets are not achieved, who will face legal action? Will the tax-payer have to foot the bill?

Nobody and b) the taxpayer, either as a payer of taxes or as a consumer always pays the bill! In any case, we have to find ways of sharing the responsibility – there’s no get out of climate change free card for anybody

Is there any point having emissions targets, when countries such as China, India and the United States have not signed up to any reduction targets?

If we don’t set a lead, because of our historic responsibilities, why should we expect them to do anything? We must set an example

Business leaders have voiced concern about the potential economic damage that emissions targets might yield. Is there a danger that big business could relocate abroad?

Energy costs are not a significant issue for most companies – the relocation of business has more to do with cheap labour.

What is your view on the government introducing enabling powers to create new trading schemes? Are these powers sufficient?

Yes, and lets use them – e.g. personal carbon trading

The Bill addresses carbon emissions in sufficient detail, but what about other greenhouse gases such as methane produced by agriculture and landfill?

All GHGs should be included

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori of 2,032 adults found 56% believed scientists were still questioning climate change. What would be you approach to tackling this misconception?

We have to continually improve the science and show that the climate change models are being borne out by the evidence, sometimes the models were too cautious

Should there be more tax incentives to go green?

Yes, every kind of incentive should be used, paid for by taxes on polluting behaviour, rewarding non-polluting behaviour

Is nuclear power the solution to our energy needs?