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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Tories plan climate levy overhaul
David Cameron driving a dog-sled in Norway
Opponents say Mr Cameron's Norway trip is a photo opportunity
Conservative leader David Cameron has said he would scrap the climate change levy and replace it with a better way of tackling carbon emissions.

He claims Labour's flagship green policy is not working because carbon emissions are rising.

He wants a new business tax or a credit system to tackle the issue.

Labour said Mr Cameron had come up with a few "platitudes and vague hints". The Lib Dems said the Tories had failed to make a single hard-edged proposal.

We've all got to get positive about climate change
David Cameron

Chancellor Gordon Brown is in the US to seek international support for climate change action, as the battle for the green vote intensifies.

Meanwhile, in a speech in Norway, Mr Cameron said he wanted to lead a new "green revolution".

That would include a new carbon levy to distinguish more effectively between energy produced from high and low carbon sources.

Blunt tool?

"When I think about climate change and our response to it, I don't think of doom and gloom, costs and sacrifice.

"I think of a cleaner, greener world for our children to enjoy and inherit, I think of the almost unlimited power of innovation, the new technologies, the new products and services, and the progress they can bring for our planet and all mankind.

"And I think of the exciting possibilities that may seem a distant dream today - changing the way we live to improve our quality of life. We've all got to get positive about climate change."

Map of David Cameron's Norway trip
Mr Cameron's trip has taken him to Svalbard, far into the Arctic circle

The Tory leader has asked his environment policy group, headed by former cabinet minister John Gummer, to look at devising a new system.

The group would look at "whether the carbon levy should operate as a business tax or as a market mechanism in which low carbon energy production and business use is encouraged through tradable credits".

"Under a Conservative government, the climate change levy will be replaced by a more effective method of reducing carbon emissions, as part of an overall framework of carbon pricing right across the economy," said Mr Cameron.

'Zero credibility'

But Environment Minister Elliot Morley retorted: "We need strong leadership to take the tough decisions required to tackle climate change, not platitudes and vague hints at future policies, where the only clear commitment is to abolish the one instrument which has done more than any other to reduce carbon emissions."

Lib Dem environment spokesman Chris Huhne said: "The Tories have not come up with a single hard-edged proposal to deliver the CO2 emissions cuts that are needed. Until they do, they have zero credibility on green issues."

All the hot air merely adds to the greenhouse gases
Roy Hills, Eastbourne

Environmental group Friends of the Earth said it was encouraged to see the Conservative leader was in favour of taxing pollution although they went on to challenge Mr Cameron to put some meat on the bones of his proposals.

The CBI welcomed the speech saying the current levy was a "blunt tool" as it did not relate to carbon emissions and applied only to businesses and not households.

Caroline Lucas, a principal speaker for the Green Party, said she welcomed Mr Cameron's words but said "the real proof of the pudding will be in what he delivers", adding that the Tory leader currently presented "a pretty empty canvas".

A poll for the BBC's Daily Politics suggested most voters believe Mr Cameron's green credentials are skin deep.

In a Populus survey of 1,004 voters, 62% thought Mr Cameron was only talking about the environment because he thinks it will make people more positive about his party, not because he really cares about it, compared with 31% who thought the opposite.

David Cameron on his climate plans


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