By Ray Fleming

THE good ship Climate Change has been becalmed in the political doldrums for some time but a good breeze sprang up yesterday to get it sailing forward again. Captain Cameron was at the helm with his navigator Chris Huhne at his side. They are, however, heading for uncharted waters because the government's new carbon reduction plans commit Britain to a more ambitious policy than any other announced by a major industrial country.

The environmental campaigner Greenpeace, which does not give out medals casually, commented: “This is a world first; no other country has made legally binding commitments to ambitious emissions reductions targets for the 2020s.” There have been many conflicting reports in the past week about whether the government would accept the advice of the independent advisory Committee on Climate Change for a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2027. It was thought that Mr Cameron might renege on his promise that the coalition would be “the greenest government ever”. But with strong backing from Chris Huhne as energy secretary, the prime minister has kept his word and in doing so set an important example for the rest of Europe. The climate change naysayers will complain that Britain will be out on a dangerous limb. But the government has wisely provided for a progress review in 2014 so that Britain can if necessary adjust its policies if they are not being matched by others.