Politics Summary: Tuesday, December 8th

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The Copenhagen Summit dominates the front pages today, with several different angles being covered. The Telegraph and Financial Times focus on the boost to President Obama of the Environmental Protection Agency ruling that CO2 and five other gases are “a danger to human health” – enabling the administration to use the Clean Air Act to limit industrial emissions from industrial plants without the approval of the Senate. The Times reports the European Union’s anger at the States and China for setting “weak emission targets” while the Prime Minister has told the Guardian that he hopes the EU will take the lead in agreeing a 30% cut “by 2020”, and the Independent looks at the finances of any deal, which it says will provide developing nations “with billions of dollars from the rich world in new climate aid, to help them cut their emissions and also adapt to climate change which is now probably unavoidable”, like widely increased flooding.

On aviation specifically, the Guardian reports calls by the Committee on Climate Change watchdog for a hike in taxes on passengers and a halt to regional airport expansion in order to curb Britain’s “insatiable appetite” for flying, while the Times leads on the same group’s belief that the third runway project at Heathrow could proceed “without jeopardising the Government’s carbon emissions targets” – a move the paper says will “stun” environmentalists and local activists. Transport Minister Lord Adonis, however, once again defended the building of the runway, saying: “A third runway, even when fully utilised, would only account for about 10 per cent more UK flights than we have now.”

Looking ahead to the pre-Budget report, the Guardian reveal Alistair Darling’s plans for a “one-off punitive super-tax of more than 50%” on bankers’ bonuses, set to be unveiled as the “centrepiece” of the PBR. They quote a well-placed Treasury source who explains the Chancellor’s reasoning:

“Salaries have got out of hand. They have been paying themselves like football stars. We have got to get them to think through the consequences of what they are doing.”

VAT will return to 17.5% in the new year and the health budget will grow 3.2%, adds the report. Left Foot Forward will be hosting a PBR live blog on Wednesday; sign up for a reminder.

The Telegraph and Guardian report the 100th UK troop fatality in Afghanistan, taking to 237 the number of British troops killed in the conflict since 2001. The Telegraph puts the year’s losses in perspective:

“Only twice before in the last four decades have British military casualties reached triple figures. In 1972 during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 108 soldiers were killed; the Falklands conflict in 1982 cost 255 British lives.”

The Guardian adds that:

“As well as the fatalities, 145 British troops have received life-threatening injuries so far this year, compared with 65 last year, and more than 1,000 troops have been admitted to field hospitals this year.”

The Telegraph also reports the bomb blasts in Pakistan which killed nearly 50 and wounded more than 100.

And the Guardian and Standard report Gordon Brown’s determination to “name and shame” the fattest of fat cat public payroll recipients, saying “some senior pay and perks packages have lost touch with the reality of people’s lives – this culture of excess must change and will change”. Last Friday Left Foot Forward reported research which showed nearly two-thirds of the highest paid public sector employees received inflation-busting pay rises of above 3 per cent.

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