Letters: Emissions reduction should be planned as an economic opportunity

Eggborough Power Station
Downing Street says the new emissions targets will boost public health and air quality Credit: John Giles /PA

SIR – Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is introducing a net-zero greenhouse-gas target, against the Chancellor’s warning that it will cost £1,000 billion (report, June 12). However, the Chancellor’s warning is misguided for two reasons.

First, efforts to reduce emissions can’t just be categorised as an upfront cost. They are also an investment that will reduce the cost of new technologies, increase domestic supply of a wide range of low-carbon goods and services, and deliver air‑quality and health benefits.

Secondly, the cost and economic benefits ultimately depend on the quality of the policies that the next government will put in place to deliver them.

An economically sensible plan to achieve net-zero emissions needs to accelerate innovation and cut the cost of critical technologies such as the use of hydrogen. Measures must be introduced to expand market demand for low-carbon goods and services – as the United Kingdom has successfully done with offshore wind and recycling. British industry must be protected from high-carbon imports, through policies such as low-carbon product standards.

By pursuing an ambitious domestic delivery plan and using British diplomatic clout to get other emitters to strengthen their climate targets and increase low-carbon trade, the next government will put Britain in a strong position to reap the economic benefits of being an early mover on net-zero emissions.

Nick Molho
Executive Director, Aldersgate Group
London W1

SIR – It worries me that in this time of climate hysteria, Britain is prepared to take unilateral measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Both George Osborne and Tony Blair could see the danger of this policy and made sure that any steps we took were to be considered in relation to what other counties were doing, so as not to put Britain at an economic disadvantage. Why are our present politicians so hell bent on leading the world in this?

Jack Thompson
Coventry, Warwickshire


SIR – BP has just released world energy statistics for 2018. Compared to those for 2017, they make sober reading.

China increased its fossil fuel use from 2,684 to 2,761 million tons. The percentage of world energy that came from fossil fuel fell only slightly, from 85.1 per cent to 84.7 per cent. At that rate, it would take 211 years to decarbonise.

Despite the huge sums spent on renewables, global carbon dioxide emissions rose from 33 to 33.7 billion tons.

Geoff Moore
Alness, Ross and Cromarty

SIR – From today, then, all “classic” vehicles are rendered valueless. What a dreary society it will be after 2050.

Peter Harrison
Poringland, Norfolk


Perverse effects of first-past-the-post elections

Ballot papers are sorted at the Peterborough by-election Credit: Darren Staples /Getty images

SIR – The issue of proportional representation (Comment, June 10) has been raised many times in the past and always blocked by those in power at the time because it did not favour them.

However, on many occasions the first-past-the-post system has disfranchised thousands of voters and led to injustices. It even happened in the recent by-election in Peterborough.

It would be ridiculous for this country to fall into a Marxist government simply because the Brexit Party and the Tories neutralise each other. Proportional representation should be brought in as soon as possible.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall


SIR – If a general election becomes unavoidable, changes to constituency boundaries must be implemented in time. To draw conclusions from an election based on existing grossly uneven constituencies would only complicate the arguments further.

David Parrott
Stroud, Gloucestershire


A Tory leader’s policies

The race is on to become the next incumbent of No 10 Credit:  ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX

SIR – Contenders for the Conservative Party leadership would do well to remember that we live in a parliamentary democracy, not a presidential one.

The country elects the party it wishes to govern us; the party chooses its leader. As a party member, I will vote for whichever of the two candidates comes closer to honouring the 2017 general election manifesto.

Theresa May was right to go to the country in 2017 for an endorsement of her proposed changes to the 2015 manifesto, even if the result was not what she intended. The new prime minister would be unwise to follow the same route, given the current state of the polls. He or she should therefore continue as far as possible with the policies on which the party was elected.

Martin Coomber
London SW19

SIR – My parents came to Britain in the Sixties, and like many hundreds of thousands of other European nationals they were economic migrants. They worked here, lived here, paid taxes here – and now they are retired here.

During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave pledged that the rights of the 3.6 million EU nationals would be guaranteed. Michael Gove’s bold and generous plan to offer fee-free citizenship to EU nationals lawfully resident in the United Kingdom up to the 2016 referendum is the right thing to do and delivers on that promise. In setting a new tone, it will also persuade the EU to offer reciprocal rights to UK nationals living in the EU.

I support Mr Gove to be our next prime minister because this pledge shows why he is the most capable and competent candidate. Having led the EU referendum campaign to victory, he is the only candidate with a credible plan for Brexit which can bring our country together.

Alberto Costa MP (Con)
London SW1


SIR – Michael Deacon (Sketch, June 12) notes the extraordinary eagerness of candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party to point out their tough or humble backgrounds.

This reminds me of RA Butler’s wonderful observation about Harold Macmillan: “Who are we today, the crofter’s grandson or the Duke’s son-in-law?”

Michael Brotherton
Chippenham, Wiltshire

Beating dazzle

Credit: Caspar Benson 

SIR – Many years ago, the driver of a Green Line bus (remember them?) gave me the following advice as to what to do when confronted by dazzling headlights: shut one eye until the problem has passed. It works, try it.

B C Thomas
Taunton, Somerset


Last blood

SIR – NHS Blood and Transplant (as it is now branded) should remember that donors are volunteers, and if they feel aggrieved or upset by the service they will walk.

At my March blood donation I was unable to make my next appointment at the end of the session as I had previously done. I logged on to the website only to find that all four of the next sessions at my preferred centre had “no places available”.

At the end of May I received an email from NHS Blood and Transplant inviting me to attend the next session at my preferred centre scheduled in eight weeks’ time. On the website, I again found that all four of the next sessions had “no places available”.

I go back to my first remark.

Tim Burton
Worthing, West Sussex


Tasty taters

Jersey Royal potatoes being harvested in St Ouen Credit: Clara Molden 

SIR – I would like to reassure Joan Dobson (Letters, June 12) that the Jersey Royal potato is very much alive and well.

We have had a superb season here on Jersey. The flavour of the potatoes has been the best in 30 years, in my opinion.

I am sure a travel agent will advise her of the best way to sample them.

C W Twiston Davies
St Lawrence, Jersey, Channel Islands


Shrewd sex swap

SIR – I went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Taming of the Shrew at our local cinema last week. All the male characters were played as women and the female characters as men.

I was dubious at first, but I was soon pleasantly surprised. It actually worked very well. As you would expect from the RSC, the acting was superb, it was very funny and beautifully costumed – a highly entertaining evening.

I felt that swapping the sex of the characters was a better way of dealing with the gender question than just casting an actor of the opposite sex in a role.

Liz Softley
Didcot, Oxfordshire


When society deems a dog to be ‘dangerous’

A 15th-century floor tile showing a white hound, a device of the Italian Gonzaga family Credit: 

SIR – A woman has died from suspected sepsis after injuries sustained while intervening in a dog fight.

As a veterinary behaviourist who frequently assesses dog bite incidents and gives evidence in court, I know that such a tragedy is merely the tiny tip of a very large iceberg. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was never intended to be applied to a dog with no animosity towards people, which may inadvertently injure an intervening person when in the throes of conflict with another dog. However, the allegation of “being dangerous” is frequently levelled against the perpetrator of such a bite – even if the dog belongs to the “victim”.

Far more attention needs to be paid to how dogs are managed in society, and whether what is now required of them and their owners may interfere with what nature intended. One hopes that the Government-commissioned research under way at Middlesex University will elucidate the many causes of dog bites. Without such insight, our society will never be able to prevent them.

Dr Kendal Shepherd
Kettering, Northamptonshire


Noise guerrilla

SIR – I have long since become accustomed to unsuitable music, normally chosen by the youthful serving staff, in restaurants and pubs (Letters, June 11). In pubs, my avoidance strategy is to sit outside, even if the weather is uninviting.

However, many pubs are now placing speakers in the beer garden, presumably to counteract the incessant din of the natural world. I have taken to removing the wires, if no one is looking, with the screwdriver on my penknife (without causing criminal damage, I might add). This improves the ambience no end.

Miles Richardson
Ettington, Warwickshire


Trash talk

SIR – Peter Saunders asks which overused expressions “deserve consignment to the dustbin of history” (Letters, June 11).

Perhaps that is one of them.

Christopher Sharp
Kenilworth, Warwickshire