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Climate Change

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

6. What steps the Government have taken to encourage participation in combating climate change at local community level. (202793)

The Government have taken a range of initiatives to assist communities in combating climate change. The climate challenge fund has provided assistance to 83 projects led by local authorities and third sector organisations to encourage more positive attitudes towards tackling climate change. For example, it enabled the Women’s Institute to develop successful eco teams to raise awareness and encourage action to reduce emissions. The environmental action fund provided yearly grants of up to £250,000 to voluntary and community sector organisations to help them meet the Government’s sustainable development objectives in England.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but does she think more can be done to encourage local authorities and householders to do more?

Let me give my hon. Friend that assurance. We have introduced new Government performance framework indicators on climate change, which will enable local authorities to reduce their own operations’ emissions and per capita emissions from their community. We are rolling out the green homes service with the Act on CO2 advice line, which will enable householders to tackle their emissions through greater energy savings. We are tackling waste and water usage, and towards the end of the year we will roll out the green neighbourhoods scheme, looking for 100 selected neighbourhoods to help to reduce their carbon footprint by 60 per cent. We are looking for 3,000 households and focusing on the most hard to treat housing stock. I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that we intend to do more, and that we have the co-operation of local authorities.

Notwithstanding what the Minister has just said, should she not be braver and more proactive with regard to encouraging individuals to take action on climate change and their carbon footprints? She will be aware of schemes, operated by some local authorities, in which reductions in council tax are offered for climate change measures taken in the house. Would that not be a more proactive way forward, in encouraging people to get something back in return for taking care of the climate?

I agree with the hon. Lady about initiatives that local authorities can take; we have made it possible for them to do that. Furthermore, probably no Government in the world are more active than ours about messages to individuals. There is, for example, the Act on CO2 campaign. I have just written to the hon. Lady and all other hon. Members about the new nationwide advertising campaign that will begin next week; she will see that a great deal of effort has gone behind that. Some 40 per cent. of our CO2 emissions come from the actions of individuals. The Government are explaining that and we are enabling and encouraging people on how they can reduce their own emissions. That is a vital part of tackling dangerous climate change, and we are extremely active on it.