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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Calls for change in UK quality of life
Greenhouse gas emissions
Britain needs to reduce greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere
A new report by the Sustainable Development Commission has highlighted a number of areas where the government needs to improve Britain's quality of life.

The document entitled: "Shows promise: But must try harder," claims that more needs to be done to tackle issues like inequality, climate change, traffic, waste and health.

SDC Chairman, Jonathon Porritt, said: "We must see a more determined effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a move away from consumption as the sole route to wellbeing, and new policies that lead to healthier environments and lifestyles for all."

BBC News Online takes a closer look at the issues that the SDC has put into the spotlight.

HEALTH

The report claims that obesity is becoming increasingly alarming in the UK, and, along with a bad diet, lack of exercise is probably a major contributor.

Poorer people still die younger and more and more people are finding access to a doctor or hospital difficult, even with a car.

As a result the SDC believes more effort is needed by the government to promote healthier environments and lifestyles at both national and local level.

The body also wants to see closer links between the government's public health agenda and sustainable development need to be established.

TRANSPORT

Traffic continues to grow inexorably and Britain has the most congested roads in Europe.

British-based people also spend more time commuting than any other European nation.

Traffic jam
UK traffic was rated as being 'the worst in Europe'

The SDC suggests that the government needs to open up a much more fundamental debate with society about moving to a more sustainable pattern of transport in the future.

It wants the debate to tackle head-on the failure of many parts of the transport sector to bear full environmental costs.

Long-term environmental costs also need to be built into all forms of transport through appropriate tax and charging measures.

CLIMATE CHANGE

There is no clear pathway to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60% by 2050, according to the SDC.

The government says that this target needs to be reached in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

The SDC urges the government to take further steps over the next five years to improve the UK's climate change policy and performance, in order to secure a path to 60% CO2 reduction by 2050.

It also must engage in deeper dialogue with stakeholders and the public to spread understanding and support for the behavioural changes that are expected.

WASTE

The report found that municipal waste is rising faster than gross domestic product (GDP) and faster than most other European countries.

Recycling rates are also increasing, but not as fast as waste, and are among the lowest in Europe.

The SDC says the government should accelerate its guidance on targets for achieving higher levels of waste minimisation, recycling and reuse.

The necessary resources and incentives must also be put in place to achieve this major change.

INEQUALITY

Government policies have significantly reduced some kinds of poverty and exclusion, according to the report.

Homeless man
Extreme income inequality is highlighted as a barrier to progress

But the UK remains among the worst of developed countries on several measures and continuing extreme income inequality is a barrier to progress.

The government needs to promote the kind of economic growth that supports social progress, high employment levels, protection of the environment and prudent use of natural resources, according to the SDC.




SEE ALSO:
Scientist renews climate attack
31 Mar 04  |  Politics
UK 'may need to scrap road taxes'
06 Feb 04  |  Business
UK 'may fail on climate cuts'
12 Feb 03  |  Science/Nature


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