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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
'Too few' incentives to go green
Middlesbrough skyline
More needs to be done on domestic climate change policies, the report says
Ministers are making lots of speeches urging people to adopt greener lifestyles but are "doing little" to help them do so, says a report by MPs.

An MPs' committee said "much more" needs to be done on green taxes, making homes energy efficient and to help people generate their own power.

Where information and help is available it is often too complicated, they said.

The government said helping people do their bit was a priority and efforts were underway to improve co-ordination.

The report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee says making households most efficient is the single most cost-effective way of cutting carbon emissions.

Standby waste

It points out research suggesting household equipment like stereos, TVs and DVD players on standby produces 3.1m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and calls on the government to work towards an "end of standby" with manufacturers.

The "zero carbon" standard for new homes should be brought in well before the current target of 2016, the report said.

It added that home owners were often put off on installing solar water heating, wind turbines and photovoltaic systems by the cost, planning restrictions and confusion over what grants were available.

Revenue-raising taxes should not simply be put in a "green wrapper" to make them more palatable for the public
EFRA Committee report

It also says people who do generate their own energy can find it difficult to sell it back to the National Grid - only Npower buys energy back for the same price at which it sells it - elsewhere there is a "large disparity" in prices, the report said.

The government should adopt a "feed-in tariff" system similar to that used in Germany and Denmark, which pays a premium fixed rate per kwh (kilowatt hours), the report says.

Green taxes

MPs say the credibility of "green taxes" needs boosting and should be used to invest in other carbon reducing measures.

"Revenue-raising taxes should not simply be put in a "green wrapper" to make them more palatable for the public," the report said.

Other suggestions include - a stamp duty rebate for home-buyers who improve energy efficiency within a year, tougher carbon reduction targets for energy suppliers, more detailed energy billing within 12 months and more demanding building regulations.

Ministers need to make less speeches on climate change and do more to enable individuals to maximise their contribution
Michael Jack
Committee chairman

It wants the government to help councils develop their own carbon reduction programmes.

"At present, community and local government initiatives are often taking place in spite of, rather than because of, government activity," said the report.

The report concludes the government "is doing little to help the many individuals and community groups keen to make an effort".

The committee's Conservative chairman Michael Jack said the government had to empower people to play their part in reducing emissions and wasted energy.

He said: "Ministers need to make less speeches on climate change and do more to enable individuals, local authorities, house builders and power suppliers to maximise their contribution to emissions reduction as quickly as possible."

Defra minister Joan Ruddock said helping people to do their bit in tackling climate change was a priority - highlighting the government's "Act on CO2" campaign.

She added: "The positive response we've had to our CO2 calculator and other activities shows that people are ready and willing do their bit. We're committed to harnessing that interest and doing more to help people make a difference.

She added: "However we can always do more and efforts are already underway to improve co-ordination across government. We will of course look very carefully at all the suggestions made by the committee. "

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