MP urges cut in speed limit to save the planet

MINISTERS are being urged to cut the national speed limit to 55mph and dedicate two hours of prime-time television each week to explain the "gravity" of the dangers posed by climate change.

Yorkshire Labour MP Colin Challen, who chairs a Commons group on climate change, says domestic flights should also be phased out by the end of next year alongside a massive expansion of home insulation programmes and investment in public transport.

His proposals, tabled in a House of Commons motion, are intended to be a rallying cry ahead of next month's Copenhagen conference where world leaders will discuss how to reduce global emissions.

But last night a motorists' organisation said the proposal to cut speed limits was "absolutely ridiculous" and climate change sceptics said television time should be used to expose the "fraud" of claims over global warming.

Morley and Rothwell MP Mr Challen, who is standing down at the next general election, said the Independent Committee on Climate Change has already found that 1.4million tonnes of carbon emissions could be saved in the UK if the current speed limit was obeyed.

"If the speed limit was reduced that would be leading to further savings," he said. "It's not necessarily beyond the scope of a modern nation to do that because the US reduced their speed limit during the first 1970s oil shock. I think it's worth looking at and it has to be the kind of collective thing only Government do."

Mr Challen has used his motion – supported by Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs – to warn of a "climate emergency" which he says is "the greatest threat that humanity faces".

He says a programme of investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, public transport and insulating existing homes could create up to one million jobs by the end of 2010, although he does not say how the proposals could be funded.

He is already collecting signatures for a petition demanding a televised debate on climate change in the General Election campaign, and said two hours of coverage each week should be dedicated to explaining the "gravity" of the situation.

Mr Challen said: "The Government's Act on CO2 campaign has been moderately successful, but it needs a lot more attention given to it. This problem is not going away.

"We have to recognise the importance and critical nature of climate change to the UK. If that requires a change in the BBC Trust's deeds, or possibly doing something through Ofcom, there's no barrier to this."

But while environmentalists are stepping up their demands for tougher action from governments ahead of the Copenhagen conference, sceptics have seized on the leaking of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit this week which they argue show climate change data was manipulated.

Scientists dismissed the claims as "ludicrous" but critics say the emails show scientists at the centre manipulated data to bolster their argument that global warming is genuine and is being caused by human actions.

Godfrey Bloom, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "This whole thing (climate change claims) is based on fraud and that's why I agree with Colin Challen – we need some television time to rebalance the fraud and misinformation that television has been promulgating for the last 10 years."

Nigel Humphries, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said reducing speed limits was "absolutely ridiculous" and insisted it was still disputed that climate change was manmade.

"People should have a choice – we pay enough fuel tax," he said. "When you get on a motorway and there are a lot of trucks, the air is moving, the difference in fuel consumption between 55mph and 85mph is minimal."

Survey claims green support

Three-quarters of people in the region support plans to trial green technology at power plants in the region, a new survey shows.

With the European Union earmarking 160m to fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment at Hatfield power station, near Doncaster, to cut emissions from the coal-fired plant, a survey by CO2Sense Yorkshire, the body helping businesses to cut carbon emissions, found 75 per cent of those questioned support trialling CCS technology in the region.