In a rallying call to local authorities to prioritise actions to reduce the effects of climate change, Minister Phil Woolas outlined the difference waste management and sustainability can make.
At a conference for Local Government representatives he said adaption to changes was vital and that climate change was starting to bite. Its happening right now and in tandem with mitigation its becoming societys climate crunch, Woolas said.
He acknowledged the work done since the launch of the Waste Strategy in May 2007 and agreed with the Local Government Association that councils are on the frontline in the fight against climate change.
Emphasising the importance of sustainability he said: Ultimately, we need to think sustainable about everything. He said that the Government had recently launched a challenging set of sustainable targets for the Government estate including a commitment to a carbon neutral Government office estate by 2012 and a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.
He said the Government wanted to be a European leader in sustainability: This means ensuring we make the most of our purchasing power to drive the market for goods and services with lower environmental and social impacts.
However, Woolas said: We cant rely solely on consumer choice or information to deliver change. What is needed is concerted and collective action from Government, retailers and manufacturers to remove poorly performing products from the market and promote the best.
He said other priorities included food and drink, which accounts for 20 to 30% of environmental impacts as well as construction products and clothing.
Development work on product road maps was also presented as a method assessing product waste and emissions.
Finally he added that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been reviewing its corporate strategy: I know this process will help us control consumption and enable us to keep a planet worth living on.
Image: Defra Minister Phil Woolas