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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 12:42 pm, 8th February 2005

I am not necessarily in favour of windfall taxes, but I believe that measures should be put in place to encourage companies to take the right steps. That can be achieved without a windfall tax, not least because it is in companies' economic interest to go down that road.

I want to speak briefly about media reporting of climate change. I make a particular plea to the producers of the "Today" programme on Radio 4. Can we please stop having artificial debates between those who believe that climate change is happening and the minority who say that they believe that it is not? We should move on from that: we need debates between politicians about how best to deal with the problem. Producers insist on presenting a ludicrous juxtaposition that does not help the argument. I very much hope that they will take what I say on board. We no longer argue about whether smoking causes lung cancer. That is now accepted, and I hope that BBC producers will accept that parallel.

I congratulate broadsheet newspapers such as The Independent and The Guardian on much of the exposure that they give to climate change and on the way that they raise the issue for readers, but it is not sufficient for their science editors simply to write a finite piece that causes people to think how dreadful things are. Politicians of all parties and countries should be engaged and asked what they are doing about the problem. The newspapers need to make the issue far more political than they have done so far.