LITTLE steps to having a smaller carbon footprint.

The era of guilt-free holidays is over. Having just got back from a curious two-centre break - Aberdeenshire and Andalucia - I am left to worry about what damage I have done to the environment by flying Easyjet to Malaga.

I did not feel sufficiently hairshirted to forgo the sunshine, much as I love Scottish drizzle, but I thought I should do something more than pay the offsetting fee. Therefore I spent a couple of afternoons helping to replant sustainable woodland while up north, to help cut my carbon footprint.

The risks of climate change are becoming increasingly obvious, the Stern Report said that the negative economic effect alone could be worse than the Great Depression and two World Wars put together.

Tackling climate change will require tough decisions and trade-offs between different environmental goals. It will also require us to think differently. We may have to change our preconceptions of how best to tackle issues like nuclear power, wind farms and traffic. We can also no longer appeal to developing nations with anti-materialist and anti-aspirational arguments but with a choice between high-carbon growth and low-carbon growth economies.

Today we must take the lead, whether as a nation pioneering new economic change that can help relieve the tensions between growth and the environment, or as an individual.

We will all have to start, or continue, to do our bit for the environment. We can follow the easy steps suggested by websites like Act on CO2 (, and take those little steps that can make the big difference to our carbon footprint.

Those who say that what individuals or the UK as a whole does is nugatory compared with the overall world carbon output are advocating a counsel of despair. Unless we are prepared to commit ourselves to changing our polluting habits, how can we expect other countries without our standard of living to do so.

Andrew Slaughter is the Labour MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush.