If it becomes law, the UK's climate change legislation will be the toughest of its kind in the world, says Lord Puttnam. However, in this week's Green Room, he says the government is still failing to make the most of an untapped resource – local communities.

Ed Miliband's appointment as the first Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is testament to what has been a monumental shift in political priorities concerning the environment.

As if to prove the point, the new secretary of state did not hesitate in making the strength of his convictions known.

In the immediate aftermath of his appointment, Ed Miliband unveiled plans to raise the current target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 60% to 80% by 2050 through domestic and international actions.

Assuming the legislation makes it to the statute book, the UK will have the world's toughest legally binding targets for achieving a low carbon economy.

Mr Miliband's move was important in demonstrating the government's green credentials ahead of the final stage of the Climate Change Bill's passage through Parliament.

But if his aim was to impress his intentions on his backbenchers, he still finds himself under considerable pressure to take an even tougher stance.

Such is the political currency of climate change that 57 Labour MPs have put their necks on the line by declaring their intention to rebel against some aspects of the Bill.

The source of their unhappiness stems from the Bill's exclusion of emissions from aviation and shipping.

Not tackling such a fundamental issue, the rebels and the Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change argued, was proof that government would fail the acid test on whether it was serious about meeting its own targets.

Hopefully, the amendments now under discussion will provide a mechanism for ensuring that aviation and shipping will get the attention it deserves.