Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Climate chief David Kennedy advocates 'stronger levers' to change our habits

Philip Pank

David Kennedy’s pedigree suggests that he is a firm believer in government being forceful in promoting laws to beat climate change.
For him, the phenomenon is beyond doubt and its impact will increasingly be felt by humanity.
But the economist whose PhD from the London School of Economics was in transport economics is careful to avoid entering the political fray launched by his latest work as chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.
He is firmly of the belief that the potentially explosive findings of the aviation report — that airports and air travel can expand, that high-speed rail is needed to offset the carbon impact of aviation, that higher taxes and expensive carbon permits may be needed — can only be decided on by government.
“These options require political judgments,” he said. “The precise combination is a choice for [government].”
He does, however, believe that people must change their behaviour and even their diet to ward off global warming. He gave up doner kebabs, his favourite food, because they contain lamb. One study found that producing 1kg (2.2lb) of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The committee’s first annual report to Parliament this autumn found that a “step change” was needed to limit CO2 emissions on the roads. The committee, which devised government carbon reduction targets and advises ministers on how to meet them, said that motorists should be charged to drive on British roads as well as paying fuel duty.
Government grants to people willing to buy electric cars might need to be doubled; 8,000 more wind turbines should be built and three nuclear power stations; and a national programme of home insulation adopted. In summary, Mr Kennedy argued that the Government needed “stronger levers” to force us to cut emissions. “We have to have a more forceful policy, and if we do that we can succeed,” he said.
That this man is leaving the door open to airport expansion will make his findings all the more stark to the environmentalists.