Heat, air and light…

The climate change select committee inquiry into consumption-based emissions reporting is now sifting and assembling the evidence presented to it.

The Packaging Federation’s submission was presented by the due deadline at the end of October and we now wait for outcomes.

The reason for this inquiry? To date, the UK has only been measuring emissions from UK-based producers of goods and services. Now the Government points out that ‘production-based reporting only takes account of emissions produced physically within a particular territory’. If a consumption-based accounting approach was to be used – that is, reporting the carbon embedded in all of the goods and services consumed within the UK – it is very likely that the emissions attributable to the UK would be shown to have been increasing.

Well, yeah, just a bit. Some recent studies suggest that EU consumption emissions have increased some 47% since 1990 and the UK’s consumption emission figures have increased by about 30% in the period 1990 to 2006.

I make therefore make no apology for having put the issue of consumer responsibility front and centre in our recent submission; urging our Government to get on, get out there – and do something about it.

In our submission last month to the Government we stated that ‘there is a clear lack of (political) leadership for consumers on issues of the environment and resource efficiency: There is an overwhelming need for a policy that bases consumer “education” on sound science and information. It is absolutely essential that policies directed at the achievement of real progress on climate change and resource use goals are based only on sound scientific assessment. Consumption-based emissions reporting is an essential tool in achieving accurate assessment of the nation’s true impacts on the global environment.’

Let’s face it, it’s simply not right; morally, or in terms of public resource or even strategy – to just measure a fraction of the whole picture; to bang the drum and tax UK manufacturing while ignoring a 30% rising trend in UK consumption emissions.

This is partly about clinging to the old maps while looking nervously into the territory itself: It recalls the old story of the man who dropped his keys in the front garden on the way to the front door and who busies himself searching under the street light. ‘Why are you looking out here?’ asks a neighbour. ‘It’s obvious – the light’s so much better over here,’ he says.

These issues serve to show us, once again, that clear thinking and fresh leadership is needed if we are to get this at all right. Otherwise, the darkness all around remains very deep.

Thanks again

Dick Searle