Offsetting. Carbon neutral. National Allocation Plans. Until two years ago, these terms were reserved for those in the know; now we all speak fluent climate change.

It intrigues me that despite global warming having been known to exist for pushing twenty years now, environmental hysteria has only recently enveloped politicians and governments alike. The latest offering from Mr Blair, to cut carbon emissions by 60% over the next forty odd years. The only industrialised country in the entire world to take such a stance. He will hope that the Blair legacy has just been sealed.

Yet I can't help but feel that the planet's most extreme stance on tackling climate change has been aided by the fact that the EU carbon targets account for a good proportion of Britains cuts over that period.

Under EU environmental law, it is possible for Member States to adopt stricter measures than those at the Community level and this is a prime example. EU states must cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, the UK has chosen 60% by 2050. But had that European limit not existed, would Tony have come out with such a bold proposal? The risks of businesses fleeing tight UK standards would certainly have been much higher had the rest of Europe not already been subject to pretty tight legislation.

Personally, I believe that this can only be a good thing. The current environmental frenzy is only happening because, until now, climate change has not been taken seriously by those in power. But I can't help but feel that this is a silent moral victory for the EU, giving states the safety net and confidence to take a harder line on environmental standards than the Community one.

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