Environmental committee urges body to tackle emission and warns on new housing ‘climate slums’

Gordon Brown should create a new body to tackle climate change, a parliamentary group urged today.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee said that the Cabinet Office body was sorely needed to “drive forward policy and to diminish the potential for a conflict of objectives between the departments”.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning Tim Yeo, the chairman of the group said that the body would need to act similarly to the Treasury to insist on departments acting in the interest of the environment. “Every department must not bend to their own needs but to the need of reducing carbon emissions.”

And Yeo called for leadership to be taken by prime minister Gordon Brown on the issue. The report, called The structure and operation of Government and the challenge of Climate Change, says that the Government has failed to rise to the challenge of reducing emissions and that the current structure “has led to a confusing framework that cannot be said to promote effective action on reducing emissions”.

Adaptation crucial

The report adds that Whitehall needs to create an impact policy framework “to help the UK to adapt to the future impacts of climate change”.

“This is particularly important given the Government’s plans dramatically to increase house building. It would be disastrous if, as a result of inappropriate planning today, new developments become the ‘climate slums’ of tomorrow.

Project management problems

The civil service’s project management skills were also criticised by the report, which were crucial to changing policy. Failure to address these skill shortages in the civil service will undermine attempts to move the UK to a low carbon economy. The civil service must ensure that climate change is addressed effectively across Whitehall.

The report also recommends that performance-related pay for civil servants is linked to delivering climate change policy.