Miliband: Brits must change entire lives for climate

To fight climate change UK residents will have to make changes to every aspect of their lives, David Miliband has said.

The environment secretary said Britons have been “short-sighted” in their efforts at tackling environmental problems in the past.

“Every part of the way we work, go to school, the way we live is going to have to change,” he told children’s newspaper First News.

“Not change for the worse, but change so that we live in a way that respects the environment rather than abuses it.”

And domestic vehicles are high up the minister’s list of ways of cutting carbon emissions.

“I think one of the important things for the government to do is invest in technology because some of the zero-carbon cars have a long way to go before they can become widely available and affordable,” Mr Miliband said.

“So we’re trying to invest in ways of developing that technology.”

The environment minister said the government would also assist developing countries in tackling emissions.

“They’re worried that any decisions they’ll make about the environment will compromise their ability to tackle poverty among their population,” he said.

“We have to show there will be money to follow going green and that’s a really important part of the plan.”

Mr Miliband also highlighted tidal power as a valuable green energy source.

“At the moment solar is really only good for heating your water, not good for powering the electricity in your house. Wind is better for that,” he said.

“But we also have to look at things like tidal power. We’re an island so we have tides all around us and unlike the sun or wind the tides are always there, 365 days a year, twice a day, the tide is there so we need to look at all those options.”

Under the Kyoto protocol, the UK must cut emissions by 12.5 per cent on 1990 levels by 2012, but the government has also imposed its own target of a 20 per cent cut.

The government has said it aims to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

In November the government introduced a climate change bill which proposes new powers enabling ministers to put in place emissions reduction measures, and provides for better reporting of progress in that goal to parliament.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats wanted the bill to include annual targets for cutting carbon emissions, an annual report to parliament on the progress being made on these targets, and the creation of independent body to assess the science.

David Cameron has committed his party to year on year cuts to emissions, measured alongside annual “rolling targets” set and monitored by the carbon committee.

Tony Blair and Mr Miliband have repeatedly argued that annual targets would be too restrictive but the environment secretary said yesterday that legislation setting out the government’s approach to climate change could be useful.