Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2005-06

15 June 2006


15 June 2006

Climate change: EFRA Committee to examine the "citizen's agenda"

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launched a series of linked inquiries into aspects of climate change policy in December 2005. These inquiries aim to address three broad themes in turn:

€ The role of renewable energy in meeting the UK's climate change aims, with specific reference to biomass and biofuels€”terms of reference were announced in December 2005. Oral and written evidence has been taken and the Committee is currently preparing its report.

€ The "citizen's agenda"€”actions which individuals can take in their daily lives to help tackle climate change, including micro-generation, local communities, schools and businesses.

€ International climate policy post-2012€”the operation of the "Kyoto rulebook" agreed at Montreal and future developments in preparing for Phase 2 of Kyoto after 2012.

The second theme which the Committee will address is the "citizen's agenda". Written submissions are invited on the issues set out below.

Further details of the third inquiry, and a call for evidence, will be issued in due course.

Climate change: the citizen's agenda

Background to the inquiry

The Government says that "individuals, households and communities have a crucial role in tackling climate change" but it concedes that it has failed to bring about the "fundamental shift needed to move to a low carbon economy".

There is scope for small behavioural changes which, if adopted on a wide enough scale, can reduce carbon emissions significantly. These changes might be motivated by a range of concerns: the prospect of financial savings, "doing one's bit for the planet", encouragement from friends and/or colleagues, or even 'pester power' from children who have learned about climate change at school.

There are indications that individuals are prepared to take steps presented to them as simple no- or low-cost carbon reduction measures which would have little or no impact on their lifestyles. However, the evidence also suggests that many individuals do not take these measures even when they would 'pay for themselves' in a relatively short period. Larger lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on car use, are less attractive and much more difficult to achieve because they require a greater degree of planning, effort, and even 'sacrifice'. How can government (at national, regional and local level) make these choices easier?

Call for evidence

This inquiry will examine how the ordinary citizen can change his or her lifestyle to minimise the impact of climate change and to mitigate its effects.

The Committee welcomes written evidence on all aspects of how individuals can be encouraged to help tackle climate change, with case studies and examples where relevant. As part of the evidence-gathering for this inquiry, Committee Members will evaluate the opportunities available for citizens to reduce their climate impact.

The Committee invites written evidence on the following points:

1) What is the real scope for individual and local community action to contribute to tackling climate change? Some areas for possible consideration include:

€ increasing energy efficiency, in particular the delivery of the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC);

€ reducing energy consumption€”not only electricity, but also energy used in heating and transportation;

€ the provision of desirable low carbon alternatives, such as energy saving lightbulbs or using public transport;

€ the potential for, and barriers to, microgeneration;

€ the potential for 'smart metering';

€ awareness of climate change and availability of information about the role of the individual in tackling the problem.

2) What are the barriers to uptake of climate change mitigation strategies at the level of the individual, and how can they be overcome? Are current incentives such as the energy efficiency commitment or graduated vehicle excise duty sufficiently strong to affect behaviour?

3) How can Government and other agencies€”at national, regional and local levels€”encourage the uptake of domestic emission reduction measures? What is the role of community projects in schools and other public institutions?

4) What is the role of NGOs in delivering the "citizen's agenda" on climate change?

5) Are Domestic Tradable Quotas (also known as personal carbon allowances) a viable option? What other economic and other incentives for behavioural change might also be considered?

The deadline for submissions is Friday 1st September 2006. More information about the required format of submissions is given below.

NOTES FOR SUBMITTERS

Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by e-mail to Dr Antonia James at [email protected] The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary, ideally no more than one page long.

Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

Personal information, such as address and contact details, should be provided separately from the body of your submission. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of the submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.

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1. For further details about this inquiry, please contact Dr Antonia James, the Committee's Environment Specialist, on 020 7219 2290. Information about the Committee can be found at: http://www.parliament.uk/efracom