Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world
today. Rising global temperatures will bring changes in weather patterns,
rising sea levels, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather
events. The UK is acting now to
adapt to climate change and to reduce our contribution to its causes.
Climate change is an issue which cuts across a range of Government policies
and responsibilities. It's important that different Departments work
together as effectively as possible. The Deputy Prime Minister is therefore
working with Ministerial colleagues across Government to help ensure that
Departments maximise their collective contribution to tackling climate
In 1997, the Deputy Prime Minister was a European Union negotiator at the
Kyoto convention on climate change. Kyoto imposed a responsibility on
developed countries to cut their overall greenhouse gas emissions on the
1990 level by 5% by the year 2010. This varied for each country, with the
European average level agreed at 8%. For Britain, this meant a reduction of
12½ per cent in greenhouse gases compared to the 1990 level.
We are on course, not only to achieve that target, but to achieve a cut in
the region of 23 to 25%. Britain has shown that you can have sustained and
continuing economic growth with Kyoto targets.
But the Kyoto Protocol is just a first step, mapping action for the first
commitment period (until 2012). If we are to make a real impact on tackling
the menace of climate change, we have to go much further.
So, in recognition of his work on the Kyoto Protocol, the Prime Minister
has asked the Deputy Prime Minister to work with the Foreign Secretary, the
Secretary of State for the Environment, and other Departments across
Government on promoting the Government's post-Kyoto agenda.
The Government is proposing that a post-Kyoto agreement should be
universal, covering developed and developing countries. It needs to
encompass nations such as China and India. During his work on Kyoto in
1997, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised need to engage with China and
India on these issues, and since then he has continued a dialogue with
leading politicians from these countries.
A post-Kyoto framework should set a clear stabilisation goal, with targets,
with a new framework to achieve it. Such a framework would provide greater
future certainty and stability to encourage greater investment in
environmentally beneficial growth. There are huge commercial and economic
opportunities in the new technologies associated with combating climate
change. Environmental sustainability and economy prosperity are two sides
of the same coin.
The UK has already shown that
tackling climate change is compatible with historically unprecedented
levels of economic growth, and our challenge is to continue to create jobs
and growth within a sustainable framework.