Unions call for tougher carbon cuts

Unions warn more must be done to address global warming problem by 2050.
Unions warn more must be done to address global warming problem by 2050.

Union activists have warned the government's plans to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050 will not be adequate to stem global warming.

Speaking at a TUC conference debate on the environment, Prospect general secretary Paul Noon said his union had "profound concerns" over the 60 per cent target.

Helen Rose from Unison agreed the proposed cut would not be sufficient.

All nations must work together to ensure global temperature rises do not exceed two degrees, she told delegates, or risk the "devastating effect" of further climate change.

While saying the climate change bill has to be welcomed, Ms Rose warned the government it was not the "cavalry coming over the hill".

Unison is calling on the government to impose a target of an 80 per cent cut in carbon emissions, warning a 60 per cent reduction will still see global temperatures rise by as much as five degrees.

There is now a "clear and overwhelming consensus" among scientists over the reality and risks of climate change, Mr Noon told delegates, calling on the TUC and UK to show leadership and commitment towards averting its environmental impact.

Mr Noon called for a widespread review of the skills required to transfer the UK to a low-carbon economy. He warned leaders not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, which saw the UK lose the initiative on new wind power technologies.

Ms Rose agreed the UK economy would have to be reformed if politicians are serious about stemming global climate change. This will require greater economic planning than is currently fashionable, she added.

Tam McFarlane from the Fire Brigades Union said the effects of climate change were brought home by the "devastating effects" of the summer floods in Yorkshire and Gloucestershire.

He warned the emergency services are already unable to cope with emerging challenges and called on the government to invest in equipment necessary for fighting floods.

Earlier, in his annual address to the TUC, CBI director general Richard Lambert said the UK could be a market leader in manufacturing new technologies for a low carbon economy.

He said increasing environmental concerns posed "big opportunities" to UK manufacturing and with the right investment could "reinvigorate" the industry.


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