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Monday, November 14, 2005 

Greenpeace protest by dumping coal outside Downing Street.

In an otherwise rather slow news day (apart from the highly dubious parading of the Jordanian suicide bomber's wife) Greenpeace took a rather direct approach to criticising Blair's failures to cut by dumping coal at three of the entrances to Downing Street.

While Greenpeace's actions were a rather effective publicity stunt, underneath trouble seems to lurking under Britain's previously laudable climate change policies. Blair himself seemed to cast doubt on the idea of cutting emissions in favour of the environment when he said: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge". Those who agree with that statement are those who want our children to inherit a dying planet. The west has got so used to the un sustainability of neo-liberal economics, with constantly rising profits and growth that it cannot see the reality of a planet which is not expendable. We need to move towards true cost economics, examining the damage we are doing and adjusting our GDP appropriately. Such a radical move is not being examined by anyone outside a small left wing movement, sadly.

Instead, we've got a fantastic idea from a leaked paper in today's Grauniad, with plans to clampdown further on the 70 MPH speed limit on the motorways:

Existing policies set out in 2000 to cut carbon dioxide emissions are falling well short, it adds. "We need to do about 75% more in around half the time."

The review lists 58 possible measures to save an extra 11m-14m tons of carbon pollution each year, which it calls the government's "carbon gap". One of the options, a new obligation to mix renewable biofuels into petrol for vehicles, was announced last week. Stricter enforcement of the 70 mph limit, the document says, would save 890,000 tons of carbon a year - more than the biofuels obligation and many other listed measures put together.

As if we don't have enough car people moaning about the stealth tax of speed cameras, you can imagine the virtual implosion of anger which will erupt from their already boiling brains. Still, what else is the answer? If the government says businesses should do more, the CBI jumps up and down like a petulant child, saying it is already being squeezed and squeezed despite Britain enjoying the most permissive business environment ever. If the government is serious about such a plan, it needs to sort out the railways and establish a true national public transport system. The reversal of its stubborn policy to keep the catastrophic privatisation of the railways going would be a great start. Too bad it'll never happen.

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