'We are running out of road on climate change. It's not that we don't know what can be done, but we do need to get it done.' The latest research, Young suggests, highlights the pressing need for the whole of society to radically alter its attitude to climate change.
'We haven't got as long as we thought, as some of the changes are going to happen much, much earlier and are going to be irreversible, ' she says. 'We have got to start making decisions now, as within 25 years we have to have reached the point where we have brought emission growth to a halt and started to move it in the other direction.'
Action, Young insists, must focus on four areas:
incentives for energy conservation
getting a grip on the energy mix for the future
tackling cars and traffic with road pricing, cleaner vehicles and the right public transport mix
addressing aviation - primarily through emissions trading.
'All of these things have got to be tackled, and tackled to a much tighter trajectory than has been the case in the past, ' she states. 'And some of the areas that have hitherto been off-limits have got to be dealt with.' The government has got to take the lead, she insists. For example, while not the long term solution, carbon capture technology should be embraced to help provide the breathing space necessary while the UK reduces its CO 2 output.
And making the economic case for taking action to counter climate change is crucial, she adds. Young points to the forthcoming Stern Review of the economics of climate change, commissioned by the Cabinet Office and Treasury, and due this autumn. It should draw out some very clear conclusions, she says.
But action is needed right now, she says, and in particular the government's climate change policy review must be hastened. Launched by DEFRA in September 2004, 'it was promised for last year and it's now promised for this year. We are running out of road.'