Environment News Service (ENS)

UK Companies, Government Partner to Cut Greenhouse Gase


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

LONDON, UK (ENS) - Eight large British companies have joined with Prime Minister Tony Blair to introduce a campaign that will provide consumers with products and services that make it easier to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The campaign, called 'We're in this Together' will provide both ideas for behavioral change and practical solutions to help consumers reduce their household emissions by one metric ton over three years.

'I fully support this inspiring and groundbreaking campaign,' Prime Minister Blair said at the launch event on Monday. 

'The government will continue to give a lead in tackling climate change both at home and internationally to reduce emissions globally. By working together - as individuals, businesses and nations - we can meet this challenge and safeguard our way of life and our planet.'

Environment Minister David Miliband said, 'Climate change doesn't discriminate. Whether you're a business, a government, or an individual, it is a threat to us all and therefore a challenge for us all. I believe that collectively we can meet this challenge.'

Formed as a deliberate response to research showing that people feel powerless when faced with the challenge of climate change, the campaign is spearheaded by The Climate Group, a nongovernmental organization created to act as a catalyst between business, state and civil groups to tackle climate change.

Dr. Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group said, 'Today marks an unprecedented commitment from some of the UK's favourite brands to help their customers tackle climate change. These brands have come up with new and innovative ways to make it easier to save energy, from watching TV, insulating roofs and insuring cars, to washing our clothes and lighting our homes.'

In a demonstration of support, retailers, banking, media and service providers from across the UK have united behind this initiative. Companies onboard now include B&Q, Barclaycard, British Gas, Marks & Spencer, O2, Royal & SunAlliance, BSkyB and Tesco, with HSBC and National Express set to join later this year.

The coalition also reaches outside business with active support coming from the Energy Saving Trust, the National Consumer Council, The Church of England, and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra.

Dr. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, said, 'The Church of England is officially committed to cutting the carbon. Since the launch of the Church's Shrinking the Footprint campaign more and more congregations are seeing the connection between caring for God's creation and embracing a greener way of life.

'One fresh contribution,' said Dr. Chartres, 'is the publication today of a practical guide for individuals entitled 'How many lightbulbs does it take to change a Christian?'

The campaign, building over three years, aims to reach every UK household by continuing to increase the number of brands in the partnership, and the number of initiatives offered to consumers.

If every UK household takes up the campaign initiatives, there is a potential saving of 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, CO2 - more than the combined emissions of Scotland and Wales.

Partners will provide either products, services or advice for consumers to facilitate the reduction of their household emissions. These initiatives will be brought together on www.together.com where the collective reduction in emissions will be calculated, intermediate targets established, and people given access to information on how they can take part.

Environment Minister Miliband said the government is introducing a new CO2 calculator later this spring that will enable individuals to calculate their personal CO2 footprint and provide suggestions for the action they need to take to reduce it. The Climate Group will help test the calculator.

The government will also establish a code of best practice for offsetting that will enable people to make informed choices about the most effective offsetting products on the market.

The government is making its buildings more energy efficient with biomass boilers, solar panels and wind turbines and already is offsetting all air travel by ministers and officials.

'We have committed to reduce CO2 emissions from road vehicles and to lead the way in reducing CO2 emissions from the government car fleet,' said the environment minister.

Every secondary school in the country is being rebuilt and refurbished and, as part of this, £110 million over the next three years will go into helping them reduce their CO2 emissions, in some cases making them carbon neutral.

These actions are backed up by a new Climate Change Bill that will lay the foundations for moving the UK to a low carbon economy.

The bill sets out a series of targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions - including making the UK's targets for a 60 percent reduction by 2050 and a 26 to 32 percent reduction by 2020 legally binding.

A public consultation on what the new climate law should contain ends in June.

But Friends of the Earth points out that UK carbon dioxide emissions rose again in 2006 and are now higher than they have ever been since Blair's Labour Government came to power 2.7 percent above 1997 levels.

UK carbon dioxide emissions in 2006 were 1.2 percent higher than they were in 2005.

Still, The Climate Group says that proactive companies, states, regions and cities around the world are demonstrating that the cuts in greenhouse gases required to stop climate change can be achieved while growing the bottom line.

The effectiveness of their campaign will be measured in two ways.

The aggregated carbon savings as a result of consumer uptake of partner solutions will be measured using calculations developed by the Energy Saving Trust, www.energysavingtrust.org.uk. This NGO aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change, by promoting the sustainable and efficient use of energy.

The Climate Group will also track behavioral change by means of an expanded version of their existing tracking study called the Climate Conscious Consumer.

The Climate Group is an independent, non-profit organization that works to accelerate the international uptake of corporate and government best practice in emissions reduction. http://theclimategroup.org/

The group has offices and charitable status in the UK, the United States and Australia and is expanding into India and China in 2007.

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