My time is running
out. So I will not be able to complete this section either. However, let me offer a few notes.
I argued that rather
than taking up a position in opposition to the sciences conservatives should present alternatives based not on ideology but
on reality. In the Prime Minister’s speech he argues that action must be
taken before science can deliver definitive answers. Yet this should be just
our point. The Left is latching on to certain, preferred answers, rather than
considering all the alternatives. Conservatism’s focus on the facts, the
underlying reality of the situation as contrasted with the Left’s preferences with the politically correct solutions,
is conservatism’s contribution to the discussion.
What if we could act
on climate change much faster than the left claims? Artificial clouds are only
one example. A rapid build up in bio mass through recombinant genetics is another. Nuclear power is a third. (Notice the
Prime Minister is willing to consider nuclear. Why only consider? If climate change is as serious as he claims why not enthusiastically endorse it?) And endorse nuclear now! “Now,” because of the
lag time in building plants in the numbers required.
But here is the
hypocrisy of the Left. They endorse
Kyoto, urge us to commit to action
now, even though they acknowledge the facts are not yet known, and yet, this action, nuclear, is not something they propose
to act on. The Prime Minister is not willing to forgo his airplane in favor of
a sailing ship when he visits the Commonwealth countries. Kyoto
was purchased by exempting China and India
from the agreement. Yet this is the height of political correctness. China’s coal use alone will cancel
out all the solar panels in Britain, all the solar panels in the world.
The use of genetic
engineering to take up the carbon dioxide is not up for discussion with the Left. Nor
is the use of artificial clouds to reduce sunlight by even .25%.
But rather than make
these points conservatives confine themselves to denying that there even is a global warming problem. If you deny there is a problem then you do not have to examine it much less offer alternative proposals.
In any case the
global die off of world population, caused by bio-attacks, will make this entire question moot. I feel a solidarity with you, even though I am forced to my death.
I am only going ahead of you, and probably not by much. The same selfishness
and ignorance and cruelty that forces death on to me also accounts for the tragedies that are soon to befall all of you. Your tolerance of the corruption that has driven me to my grave is the same corruption
which you tolerate in these other areas.
The failure to
control the knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, especially in recombinant genetics, is similar to the failure to control
the greenhouse effect. You know there is a problem but instead of examining it
clearly, and assessing all the options, you drift along, the conservatives in denial, the Left lost in one transparent political
compromise with “correctness” after another . . . futile to discuss
it further . . .
The Prime Minister
called climate change the world's greatest environmental challenge in a speech in London
"Our effect on the
environment, and in particular on climate change, is large and growing; he said."
The 10th anniversary
of His Royal Highness' Business and the Environment Programme marks what is now recognised as the premier international forum
for exploring sustainable development in the context of business.
Over the coming
months we will take forward the wider sustainable development and environment agenda. Margaret Beckett is working on a comprehensive
DEFRA 5 year programme to be released this year and a new sustainable development strategy for early next year. This will
deal with, amongst other matters, issues of waste, recycling, sustainable agriculture, all aspects of biodiversity; and fishing,
and will set out policies in each key area. For example, on the marine environment, I believe there are strong arguments for
a new approach to managing our seas, including a new Marine Bill.
But tonight I want
to concentrate on what I believe to be the world's greatest environmental challenge: climate change.
Our effect on
the environment, and in particular on climate change, is large and growing
my argument at the outset:
From the start of the
industrial revolution more than 200 years ago, developed nations have achieved ever greater prosperity and higher living standards.
But through this period our activities have come to affect our atmosphere, oceans, geology, chemistry and biodiversity.
What is now plain is
that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and strong economic growth from a world population
that has increased sixfold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that began as significant, has become alarming
and is simply unsustainable in the long-term. And by long-term I do not mean centuries ahead. I mean within the lifetime of
my children certainly; and possibly within my own. And by unsustainable, I do not mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment.
I mean a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human
The problem and let
me state it frankly at the outset - is that the challenge is complicated politically by two factors. First, its likely effect
will not be felt to its full extent until after the time for the political decisions that need to be taken, has passed. In
other words, there is a mismatch in timing between the environmental and electoral impact. Secondly, no one nation alone can
resolve it. It has no definable boundaries. Short of international action commonly agreed and commonly followed through, it
is hard even for a large country to make a difference on its own.
But there is no doubt
that the time to act is now. It is now that timely action can avert disaster. It is now that with foresight and will such
action can be taken without disturbing the essence of our way of life, by adjusting behaviour not altering it entirely.
There is one further
preliminary point. Just as science and technology has given us the evidence to measure the danger of climate change, so it
can help us find safety from it. The potential for innovation, for scientific discovery and hence, of course for business
investment and growth, is enormous. With the right framework for action, the very act of solving it can unleash a new and
benign commercial force to take the action forward, providing jobs, technology spin-offs and new business opportunities as
well as protecting the world we live in.
But the issue is urgent.
If there is one message I would leave with you and with the British people today it is one of urgency.
Let me turn now to
the evidence itself. The scientific evidence of global warming and climate change: UK
leadership in environmental science.
Apart from a diminishing
handful of sceptics, there is a virtual worldwide scientific consensus on the scope of the problem. As long ago as 1988 concerned
scientists set up an unprecedented Intergovernmental Panel to ensure that advice to the world's decision-makers was sound
of scientists are now engaged in this work. They have scrutinised the data and developed some of the world's most powerful
computer models to describe and predict our climate.
excellence in science is well documented: we are second only to the US
in our share of the world's most cited publications. And amongst our particular
strengths are the environmental sciences, lead by the world-renowned Hadley and Tyndall centres for climate change research. And from Arnold Schwarzenegger's California
to Ningxia Province in China,
the problem is being recognised.
Let me summarise the evidence:
- The 10 warmest
years on record have all been since 1990. Over the last century average global temperatures have risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius:
the most drastic temperature rise for over 1,000 years in the northern hemisphere.
- Extreme events
are becoming more frequent. Glaciers are melting. Sea ice and snow cover is declining. Animals and plants are responding to
an earlier spring. Sea levels are rising and are forecast to rise another 88cm by 2100 threatening 100m people globally who
currently live below this level.
- The number
of people affected by floods worldwide has already risen from 7 million in the 1960s to 150 million today.
- In Europe
alone, the severe floods in 2002 and had an estimated cost of $16 billion.
- This summer we have
seen violent weather extremes in parts of the UK.
changes and severe weather events are already affecting the world insurance industry. Swiss Re, the world's second largest
insurer, has estimated that the economic costs of global warming could double to $150 billion each year in the next 10 years,
hitting insurers with $30-40 billion in claims.
By the middle
of this century, temperatures could have risen enough to trigger irreversible melting of the Greenland
ice-cap - eventually increasing sea levels by around seven metres. There is good
evidence that last year's European heat wave was influenced by global warming. It resulted in 26,000 premature deaths and
cost $13.5 billion.
It is calculated that
such a summer is a one in about 800 year event. On the latest modelling climate change means that as soon as the 2040s at
least one year in two is likely to be even warmer than 2003.
That is the evidence.
There is one overriding positive: through the science we are aware of the problem and, with the necessary political and collective
will, have the ability to address it effectively.
The public, in my view,
do understand this. The news of severe weather abroad is an almost weekly occurrence. A recent opinion survey by Greenpeace
showed that 78% of people are concerned about climate change.
But people are confused
about what they can do. It is individuals as well as Governments and corporations who can make a real difference. The environmental
impacts from business are themselves driven by the choices we make each day.
To make serious
headway towards smarter lifestyles, we need to start with clear and consistent policy and messages, championed both by government
and by those outside government. Telling people what they can do that would make a difference.
I said earlier
it needed global leadership to tackle the issue. But we cannot aspire to such leadership unless we are seen to be following
our own advice.
So, what is the UK
Government doing? We have led the world in setting a bold plan and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We are on track
to meet our Kyoto target. The latest estimates suggest that greenhouse gas emissions
in 2003 were about 14% below 1990 levels. But we have to do more to achieve our commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
by 20% by 2010.
Our targets are ambitious
and we must continually review and refine how we can meet them. In 2000, we published our Climate Change Programme, which
set out a comprehensive range of policies aimed at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Tomorrow, we'll be setting out the
details of this review to see if it is achieving the necessary progress towards our short-term and long-term emissions targets,
and if not, to see how we can do better.
In the longer term,
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's seminal report on energy concluded that to make its contribution towards
tackling climate change, the UK needed to reduce our carbon
dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050. This implies a massive change in the way this country produces and uses energy. We are committed
to this change.
There are immense
business opportunities in sustainable growth and moving to a low carbon economy. The
UK has already shown that it can have a strongly growing economy
while addressing environmental issues. Between 1990 and 2002 the UK
economy grew by 36%, while greenhouse gas emissions fell by around 15%.
itself must seize the opportunities: it is those hi-tech, entrepreneurial businesses with the foresight and capability to
tap into the UK's excellent science base that will succeed.
Tackling climate change will take leadership, dynamism and commitment - qualities that I know are abundantly represented in
As part of next year's
G8 process I want to advance work on promoting the development and uptake of cleaner energy technologies begun under the French
Presidency in 2003 and continued by the US this year.
We need both
to invest on a large scale in existing technologies and to stimulate innovation into new low carbon technologies for deployment
in the longer term. There is huge scope for improving energy efficiency and promoting the uptake of existing low carbon technologies
like PV, fuel cells and carbon sequestration.
is coming out of the laboratory and becoming reality in new fuel cell cars, combined heat and power generators and in new
low carbon fuels. The next generation of photovoltaics are unlikely to need the now familiar panels: smart windows could generate
the power required for new buildings. And carbon sequestration: literally capturing carbon and storing it in the ground, also
has real potential. BP are already involved in an Algerian project which aims to store 17 million tonnes of CO2.
What we need
to do is build an international consensus on how we can speed up the introduction of these technologies. And there are already many great examples of companies here in the UK
showing the way:
- Ceres Power
based in Crawley and utilising technology developed at Imperial College have developed a new fuel cell that has unique properties
and is a world leader, and
- just a few weeks
ago Ocean Power Delivery transmitted the first offshore wave energy from the seas off Orkney to the UK
And these are not isolated
climate change focuses minds on big, industrial, energy users. But retailers are also working with suppliers to reduce the
impacts of goods and services that they sell. I want to see the day when consumers can expect that environmental responsibility
is as fundamental to the products they buy as health and safety is now.
Government has to work
with business to move forward, faster. For example, we will help business cut waste and improve resource efficiency and competitiveness
through a programme of new measures funded through landfill tax receipts. We will follow up the report of the Sustainable
Buildings Task Group to raise environmental standards in construction.
The Carbon Trust
is helping business to address their energy use and encourage low-carbon innovation. In total, efficiency measures are expected
to save almost 8 million tonnes of carbon from business by 2010, more than 10% of their emissions in 2000.
Our renewables obligation
has provided a major stimulus for the development of renewable energy in the UK.
It has been extended to achieve a 15.4% contribution from renewables to the UK's
electricity needs by 2015, on a path to our aspiration of a 20% contribution by 2020. In the short term, wind energy - in
future increasingly offshore - is expected to be the primary source of smart, renewable power.
on nuclear energy has not changed. And as we made clear in our Energy White Paper last year, the government does "not rule
out the possibility that at some point in the future new nuclear build might be necessary if we are to meet our carbon targets."
In short, we need to
develop the new green industrial revolution that develops the new technologies that can confront and overcome the challenge
of climate change; and that above all can show us not that we can avoid changing our behaviour but we can change it in a way
that is environmentally sustainable.
Just as British know-how
brought the railways and mass production to the world, so British scientists, innovators and business people can lead the
world in ways to grow and develop sustainably.
I am confident business
will seize this opportunity. Cutting waste and saving energy could save billions of pounds each year. With about 90% of production
materials never part of the final product and 80% of products discarded after single use, the opportunities are clear.
sustainability: new schools, new housing and re-invigorating 'Agenda 21'
can give a lead in its own procurement policy.
There is a huge school
building programme underway. All new schools and City Academies should be models for sustainable development: showing every
child in the classroom and the playground how smart building and energy use can help tackle global warming.
The government is now
developing a school specific method of environmental assessment that will apply to all new school buildings. Sustainable development
will not just be a subject in the classroom: it will be in its bricks and mortar and the way the school uses and even generates
its own power.
Our students won't
just be told about sustainable development, they will see and work within it: a living, learning, place in which to explore
what a sustainable lifestyle means.
The economic and social
case for new housing is compelling. But we must also ensure that our approach is environmentally sustainable. This means action
at both the national and local level. Heating, lighting and cooling buildings produces about half of total UK
In 2002 we raised the
minimum standard for the energy performance of new buildings by 25%. And next year we'll raise it by another 25%. The challenge
now is to work with the building industry to encourage sustainability to be part of all new housing through a new flexible
Code for Sustainable Buildings.
The new developments
proposed in specific parts of the south east including the Thames Gateway represent a huge opportunity for us to show what
can be achieved in terms of modern, smart, 21st century, sustainable living: not just in terms of reduced energy use, but
also through better waste management, sustainable transport and availability of quality local parks and amenities.
Many local communities
understand the links between the need to tackle national and global environmental challenges and everyday actions to improve
our neighbourhoods and create better places to live.
In 1997, I encouraged
all local authorities to work with their communities and produce Local Agenda 21 plans by 2000.
There was an overwhelming
response: from County Durham to Wiltshire
and from Redbridge to Cheshire, local people showed what could be done. Next year,
as a key part of our new Sustainable Development Strategy, I want to reinvigorate community action on sustainable development.
Action in the
From this base, of
domestic action we move out to action Europe-wide.
We believe, as
I know many of you do, that trading is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions. The emissions trading scheme which
we have advocated and pushed in Europe is of great importance to our goals, and to those of Europe.
The establishment of a carbon trading market throughout the world's most important economic area next year will be an enormous
achievement, and will change the way thousands of businesses think about their energy use. Cutting carbon emissions is the
way the future will be, and we have repeatedly said that there are advantages to British industry from early action
and throughout the world, the expected rapid growth in demand for transport, including aviation, means that we must develop
far cleaner and more efficient aircraft and cars.
I am advised that by
2030, emissions from aircraft could represent a quarter of the UK's
total contribution to global warning. A big step in the right direction would be to see aviation brought into the EU emissions
trading scheme in the next phase of its development. During our EU Presidency we will argue strongly for this.
And the UK
is taking a strong lead globally
we need then to secure action world-wide. Here it is important to stress the scale of the implications for the developing
world. It is far more than an environmental one, massive though that is. It needs little imagination to appreciate the security,
stability and health problems that will arise in a world in which there is increasing pressure on water availability; where
there is a major loss of arable land for many; and in which there are large-scale displacements of population due to flooding
and other climate change effects.
It is the poorest countries
in the world that will suffer most from severe weather events, longer and hotter droughts and rising oceans. Yet it is they
who have contributed least to the problem. That is why the world's richest nations in the G8 have a responsibility to lead
the way: for the strong nations to better help the weak.
Such issues can only
be properly addressed through international agreements. Domestic action is important, but a problem that is global in cause
and scope can only be fully addressed through international agreement. Recent history teaches us such agreements can achieve
The 1987 Montreal Protocol
- addressing the challenge posed by the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer - has shown how quickly a global environmental
problem can be reversed once targets are agreed.
However, our efforts
to stabilise the climate will need, over time, to become far more ambitious than the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto
is only the first step but provides a solid foundation for the next stage of climate diplomacy. If Russia
were to ratify that would bring it into effect.
We know there is disagreement
with the US over this issue. In 1997 the US Senate voted 95-0
in favour of a resolution that stated it would refuse to ratify such a treaty. I doubt time has shifted the numbers very radically.
But the US
remains a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the US National Academy of Sciences agree that there
is a link between human activity, carbon emissions and atmospheric warming. Recently the US Energy Secretary and Commercial
Secretary jointly issued a report again accepting the potential damage to the planet through global warming.
will be a top priority for our G8 Presidency next year
Recently, I announced
that together with Africa, climate change would be our top priority for next year's G8. I do not under-estimate
the difficulties. This remains an issue of high and fraught politics for many countries. But it is imperative we try.
I want today to highlight
three key parts of my G8 strategy.
First, I want
to secure an agreement as to the basic science on climate change and the threat it poses. Such an agreement would be new and
provide the foundation for further action.
Second, agreement on
a process to speed up the science, technology, and other measures necessary to meet the threat.
Third, while the eight
G8 countries account for around 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is vital that we also engage with other countries
with growing energy needs - like China and India; both on how they can meet those needs sustainably and adapt to the adverse
impacts we are already locked into.
Given the different
positions of the G8 nations on this issue, such agreement will be a major advance; but I believe it is achievable.
The G8 Presidency is
a wonderful opportunity to give a big push to international opinion and understanding, among businesses as well as Governments.
We have to recognise
that the commitments reflected in the Kyoto protocol and current EU policy are
insufficient, uncomfortable as that may be, and start urgently building a consensus based on the latest and best possible
Prior to the
G8 meeting itself we propose first to host an international scientific meeting at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction
and Research in Exeter in February. More than just another scientific conference,
this gathering will address the big questions on which we need to pool the answers available from the science:
-What level of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is self-evidently too much?; and What options do we have to avoid such levels?;
This can help
inform discussion at the G8.
therefore can be summarised in this way:
1 If what the
science tells us about climate change is correct, then unabated it will result in catastrophic consequences for our world.
2 The science,
almost certainly, is correct.
3 Recent experience
teaches us that it is possible to combine reducing emissions with economic growth.
4 Further investment
in science and technology and in the businesses associated with it has the potential to transform the possibilities of such
a healthy combination of sustainability and development.
5 To acquire
global leadership, on this issue Britain must demonstrate
it first at home.
6 The G8 next year,
and the EU Presidency provide a great opportunity to push this debate to a new and better level that, after the discord over
Kyoto, offers the prospect of agreement and action.
None of this
is easy to do. But its logic is hard to fault. Even if there are those who still doubt the science in its entirety, surely
the balance of risk for action or inaction has changed. If there were even a 50% chance that the scientific evidence I receive
is right, the bias in favour of action would be clear. But of course it is far more than 50%.
And in this case, the
science is backed up by intuition. It is not axiomatic that pollution causes damage. But it is likely. I am a strong supporter
of proceeding through scientific analysis in such issues. But I also, as I think most people do, have a healthy instinct that
if we upset the balance of nature, we are in all probability going to suffer a reaction. With world growth, and population
as it is, this reaction must increase.
We have been
warned. On most issues we ask children to listen to their parents. On climate change, it is parents who should listen to their
Now is the time