Why create an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change now? We have parliamentary groups on the environment and renewable energy, but not on climate change. We needed a platform to generate cross-party thinking on how to engage businesses and the public with carbon emission reduction issues. About 80 MPs from the three main political parties have joined since I launched the group on 29 June with Stephen Byers MP, who is co-chair of the International Climate Change Taskforce.
What will the group do? It will look at new policy options such as domestic tradeable quotas, which I proposed in my Private Member's Bill - the Domestic Tradable Quotas (Carbon Emissions) Bill - last year. It would have set a ceiling for carbon emissions. The group will also support my initiative to cut emissions by 25 per cent in five years.
Did you consult environmental groups? Not yet, but I intend to. A number of them were at the launch, including Friends of the Earth. I have so far worked closely with Future Forests, a commercial business that promotes climate-friendly technology. It acts as the group's secretariat, helping us to organise meetings and send out invites, because MPs don't have the time to do this. Obviously, we want to build links with as many organisations as possible - the aim is not to create barriers.
Do you support the EDM asking for a Climate Change Bill, tabled by Michael Meacher last week? I signed it, although I think that asking for cuts in carbon emissions of 3 per cent a year is too low. But we have to win over the electorate if we ask for higher cuts. At the moment the public doesn't appreciate the need for large cuts. This is why the economic consequences of such decisions have to be explored. The group would certainly encourage research into it.
When is your first meeting? After the summer recess. We will have three meetings between October and the end of the year.