Brit PM Calls For Global Action On Climate Change
Prime Minister calls for global action on climate change
Gordon Brown has called for "vision and determination" from world leaders to rise to the challenge of climate change. In a speech at the Foreign Press Association in London, the PM stressed the importance of building a global low carbon economy and pledged to put the UK at the forefront of the fight against climate change and its effects.
The PM said:
"Our mission is, in truth, historic and world changing - to build, over the next fifty years and beyond, a global low carbon economy. And it is not overdramatic to say that the character and course of the coming century will be set by how we measure up to this challenge."
Mr Brown outlined measures from three Government bills - the Climate Change Bill, the Energy Bill and the Planning Bill - that will help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and move to greener energy sources.
On climate change, the Government is committed to a 60 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 and is consulting on the possibility of raising this to 80 percent. The UK will also commit to increasing its use of renewable energy sources to meet its share of a 20 percent EU target by 2020 [country shares are to be determined in January].
Planning regulations will also have an impact, with all new homes required to be carbon neutral by 2016. Other steps include the convening of a supermarket forum aimed at cutting packaging waste and a new international funding framework to help developing nations switch to green technologies.
The PM looked ahead to next month's summit on climate change in Bali where world leaders will begin negotiations on a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. He announced the release of a statement outlining the Government's principle aims for any agreement, including a global rise in temperature of no more than two degrees centigrade and a 50 percent cut in global greenhouse emissions by 2050.
Pointing to the opportunities afforded by green technology, Mr Brown said that a low carbon economy could help create hundreds of thousands of UK jobs and a "vast new export market".
The PM said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report, published on Saturday, showed "pervasive and prolonged consequences" as a result of inaction. The report claimed that temperatures will rise by four degrees and sea levels by up to 60cm if radical measures are not implemented.
The PM said:
"All of us - Government, business, civil society and individuals - have a part to play. Working apart we will surely fail. But working together I have no doubt that this is a challenge to which the human spirit, and our powers of ingenuity and enterprise, will rise."
Speech on Climate Change
19 November 2007
I am privileged to be here at this event hosted by WWF today.
For over forty years WWF has led the way to a greater public understanding of the beauty and diversity of the natural world we inhabit:
campaigns have saved habitats and species across the
your practical work has shown how nature conservation can also provide sustainable livelihoods for local communities;
and you are now in the forefront of the global campaign against climate change.
Indeed, from long before it became fashionable, you have reminded us of our obligations ---- and you have demanded of us that we take care of the earth which belongs not just to us but to future generations.
I am speaking to you today just two weeks before the UN Climate Conference begins in Bali.
The task sounds specific - to launch negotiations leading to a post-2012 global agreement on climate change.
But our mission is, in truth, historic and world changing ---- to build, over the next fifty years and beyond, a global low carbon economy.
And it is not overdramatic to say that the character and course of the coming century will be set by how we measure up to this challenge.
In the years after 1945 the world came together to rebuild broken economies and fractured societies - billions of new investment mobilised to redevelop post-war Europe.
And at the heart of that endeavour was the Marshall Plan that transferred three per cent of national income from America to Europe --- a collaborative effort under which countries cooperated for common goals.
At that time, leaders had to fight against short-sightedness, inertia and the dominance of old backward looking dogmas.
But they met the challenge because they understood that prosperity is indivisible, that to be sustained it has to be shared, and that meeting the costs and bearing the burdens were the only guarantee of prosperity and security.
Today we face another fateful choice.
Building a low carbon global economy demands a worldwide commitment on a comparable financial scale, requiring billions of pounds of new investment in clean energy.
The climate change crisis is the product of many generations, but overcoming it must be the great project of this generation.
And it will have to involve not just Europe and America but the entire community of nations.
So once again leaders will have to demonstrate vision and determination --- because, just as in 1945, we must understand that it is only by rising to the challenge of change that we can guarantee our prosperity and security, now and in the future.
The latest report from the International Energy Agency makes clear the scale of that challenge: that if we continue with 'business as usual', by 2030:
- world energy demand will be 50 per cent higher than today with 80 per cent of this for fossil fuels;
- the average oil price will remain over 60 dollars a barrel with most oil and gas coming from unstable regions;
- and global carbon dioxide emissions will have risen by almost 60 per cent.
And the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that such trends, unabated, would mean temperature increases by the end of this century of up to 4 degrees centigrade and sea levels rising by up to 60 centimetres ---- with pervasive and prolonged consequences for ecosystems, food and water supplies and human settlements.
Such a catastrophe would also be the most terrible injustice. For while the richest countries have caused climate change, it is the poorest who are already suffering its worst effects.
As the Stern Report shows, the economic cost of this kind of climate change - the change which the world is currently headed for - would be comparable to the economic effects of a Great Depression combined with world war.
But what the Stern Report also demonstrated is that - momentous as the challenge is - meeting it is both technologically feasible and economically rational; the costs of urgent action are far less than the costs of delay; and the earlier we act, the easier and less expensive our task will be.
So the role of government is transformed. Once government's objectives were economic growth and social cohesion. Now they are prosperity, fairness and environmental care.
And it falls to this generation to show that we can meet and master the challenge of combining economic growth and environmental stewardship with social justice.
The issue is not, as some would have it: can we afford to do more.
The now undeniable reality is that we cannot afford to accept any less.
Our starting point is Bali - where we will not finish a new international agreement within two weeks but begin a two-year negotiation to achieve it. And every country's concerns and proposals must be on the table.
For our part, Britain is today publishing a statement setting out the principles which we believe should underpin a post-2012 framework. And our vision has one overriding aim: holding the rise in global average temperature to no more than 2 degrees centigrade. This requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak within the next ten to fifteen years ----- and be cut at least by half by 2050. And it requires us to build a global low carbon economy ---- ensuring that the 22 trillion dollars of new energy investment worldwide over the next 20 years contributes more to the solutions to global warming - energy efficiency and low carbon generation - than to its causes.
A global carbon market is at the heart of our approach - not the old way of rigid regulation but the modern way: harnessing the power of the market to set a global price for carbon, rewarding the most efficient and innovative action to tackle climate change.
Built on the foundation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, with the City of London its centre, the global carbon market is already worth 20 billion euros a year and could be worth twenty times that by 2030.
And that is why we want the post-2012 international agreement to include binding emissions caps for all developed countries - for only hard caps can create the framework necessary for a global carbon market to flourish.
A global carbon market will also facilitate a transfer of technology and resources so that developing countries can bypass the polluting 20th century path to industrialisation and move straight to the clean energy technologies of a new era.
Through the Clean Development Mechanism, significant finance is already being provided to these countries - and the flows could be much larger in the future.
And building on the World Bank-led Clean Energy Investment Framework and Britain's £800 million pound Environmental Transformation Fund, I want to work with the US, Japan and other G8 and European donors to create a new multilateral funding framework through which we can channel our assistance to help the developing world shift to lower carbon growth, reduce emissions from deforestation and adapt to climate change.
And as we help developing countries so Europe has already shown its leadership --- demonstrating its ambition to become the first major low carbon economy.
The decisions made by the EU Spring Council:
to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, or 30 per cent
as part of an international agreement;
to commit to 20 per cent renewable energy and a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency by 2020;
have committed our continent to a low carbon trajectory, demonstrating how Europe can provide the platform for Britain to achieve its aims, nationally and internationally. And I pay tribute to President Barroso, Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy for their leadership.
The EU view is that to stand a chance of keeping the temperature increase below the 2 degrees centigrade target - and as part of a multilateral agreement - emissions from industrialised countries like Britain should be cut by 60 to 80 per cent by 2050.
In Britain we now produce some 654 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually.
By 2050 we need to be producing between just 155 and 310 million tonnes - less than half as much in an economy which will be two and a half times its present size.
So within four decades each pound of GDP needs to produce just one sixth to one twelfth of the CO2 equivalent it does today.
This means a significant change in our energy economy. Indeed I believe it will require no less than a fourth technological revolution. In the past the steam engine, the internal combustion engine and the microprocessor transformed not just technology but the way society was organised and the way people lived. Now we are about to embark on a comparable technological transformation - to low carbon energy and energy efficiency.
This represents an immense challenge for Britain. But it is an even bigger opportunity.
Globally, the overall added value of the low carbon energy sector could be as high as 3 trillion dollars per year worldwide by 2050, and it could employ more than 25 million people. If Britain maintains its share of this growth there could be over a million people employed in our environmental industries within the next two decades.
So building our own low carbon economy offers us the chance to create thousands of new British businesses, hundreds of thousands of new British jobs and a vast new export market in which Britain can be a world leader.
And this will also be essential to our energy security, as we move from a period where most of our energy has come from domestic sources to one where, on present trends, by 2020 up to 80 per cent could come from overseas.
The foundation of our approach is providing clear, credible and long-term signals.
First, our Climate Change Bill will place a statutory cap on Britain's emissions ---- with five-year carbon budgets set on the advice of the new independent climate change committee providing certainty for investors, business and consumers. And I thank Hilary Benn - and before him David Miliband - for their work on the Bill.
Every new policy will be examined for its impact on carbon emissions - not just those which reduce emissions, but those which increase them. And where emissions rise in one sector, we will have to achieve corresponding falls in another.
The legislation will enact our target of achieving a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of at least 60 per cent by 2050 through domestic and international action ---- but the evidence now suggests that, as part of an international agreement, developed countries may have to reduce their emissions by up to 80 per cent. So we will put this evidence to the committee on climate change and ask it to advise us, as it begins to consider the first three five-year budgets, on whether our own domestic target should be tightened up to 80 per cent.
The Climate Change Bill will also put into statute our interim target for 2020 of a 26 to 32 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, which means cutting greenhouse gas emissions overall by between 32 and 37 per cent - Britain's contribution to the European target and to the new international climate change agreement we seek.
We have already led the debate within the EU to ensure that aviation emissions are included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as soon as possible. We will now also ask the climate change committee to examine whether and how international aviation emissions could be included in the UK's carbon budgets.
And because we know that alongside measures to reduce carbon emissions we must do more to deal with the effects of climate change, there will be new powers in the Climate Change Bill to require public bodies to assess, where necessary, the risks of climate change and set out what action they need to take in response.
Our second imperative is a major improvement in our energy efficiency.
At present, a third of all the oil, coal and gas we buy is wasted - a result of still relying on the technologies, and the mindset, of the past.
This must change.
As the report I commissioned from Professor Julia King shows, there are exciting new vehicle technologies just over the horizon: commercial hybrid engines, and soon plug-in hybrids, fully electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells.
And Professor King believes that a halving of average emissions by 2030 - to around 80 grammes per kilometre - is feasible.
The EU is looking to introduce a new mandatory efficiency standard of 130 grammes by 2012.
Britain will now press for a second, ambitious EU target of 100 grammes per kilometre by 2020, or no later than 2025.
At the same time, we must do more to improve energy efficiency in our homes.
By 2016, all new houses will have to be zero carbon.
Building regulations, already requiring 40 per
cent higher efficiency than 2002, will be tightened.
New Energy Performance Certificates will provide householders with an energy rating for their home.
And within a decade our aim is that every householder able to do so fits loft or cavity wall insulation, installs low energy light bulbs, and uses low-energy consumer goods.
For consumer goods, including those with wasteful standby facilities, we are working with retailers to raise energy efficiency standards. And we have already secured agreement that standard high energy light bulbs will start to be phased out from next year, and removed totally by 2011 - the first European country to do so.
Since 2001 government schemes have insulated 2 million homes. But over the next three years - as a result of new carbon emission reduction targets for energy companies - I can announce that 5 million more homes will benefit from discounted or free loft and cavity wall insulation, and another 3 million from discounted or free low energy light bulbs and energy efficient appliances.
For every household - over the next decade - there will be the offer of a smart meter that will allow two way communication between the supplier and customer - giving more accurate bills and making it easier for people to generate their own energy through microgeneration and sell it onto the grid.
And to help people move towards a greener lifestyle, we are today announcing a new one-stop Green Homes service --- a single telephone line, a user-friendly website and a network of advice centres in every region to:
provide easy access to an energy audit
and the full range of discounted and free services
and give advice not only on energy efficiency but on microgeneration, water efficiency, recycling and greener travel.
House to house visits in fifty of our poorest areas will provide energy efficiency offers door to door. And for every householder who gets an energy performance certificate with an 'F' or 'G' rating for a home being sold or bought, the green homes service will make an offer of discounted or free help with energy efficiency measures.
This represents the biggest improvement in home energy efficiency in our history -
* one household in three offered help over the next three years to cut their carbon footprint;
* with potential savings of over £100
per year for a typical householder.
usinesses too must play their part in improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
Here the basic policy framework is already in place.
We have the climate change levy on business energy use.
And climate change agreements with the main sectors have delivered savings of 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide so far.
Major carbon emitters, accounting for almost half of Britain's emissions, are now required to achieve emission reductions through the EU Emissions Trading Scheme - and we are working in Europe to strengthen the scheme so that tighter caps for longer periods are set in future phases.
From 2010 we will also introduce carbon trading in the UK for large but less energy-intensive businesses - offices, supermarkets, commerce and public sector organisations - saving at least another 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
One of the biggest contributors to our greenhouse gas emissions is landfilled waste.
And all over the country campaigns are forming to get rid of disposable plastic bags - one of the most visible symbols of environmental waste.
Every year in Britain, over 13 billion single-use carrier bags are distributed - over 10 bags a week for every household.
In partnership with Government the supermarkets have already committed to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags by 25 per cent over the next year.
But I believe we can go further. Indeed, I am convinced that we can eliminate single-use disposable bags altogether in favour of long-lasting and more sustainable alternatives.
So the Government will convene a forum of the supermarkets, the British Retail Consortium and other interested groups to urgently assess together how, and how quickly, this reduction can be achieved.
The third imperative for a low carbon future is a major drive to decarbonise our energy sources.
For two hundred years the British economy has run largely on fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas supplying us with the plentiful and secure energy that powered our progress and our prosperity.
But over the coming decades we must move from a largely fossil fuel based economy to an economy primarily powered by low carbon energy:
* potentially nuclear - subject to the outcome of our consultation
* and the emerging technology of carbon capture and storage.
At present around 9 per cent of total energy in Britain is from low carbon sources: 2 per cent from renewables, and 7.5 per cent from nuclear.
In order to meet our global greenhouse gas targets, by 2050 virtually all energy for electricity and most of the energy used for heating, cooling and transport in our country will have to come from low carbon sources.
And because we need to replace a third of our electricity generating capacity in the next twenty years and most of the new plants will still be operating in 2050, we must start this technological transformation now.
In our Energy White Paper the Government set out its preliminary view that it would be in the public interest to give energy companies the option of building new nuclear power stations, as most of our existing nuclear stations will be decommissioned in the next twenty years.
Having concluded the full public consultation we held on this issue, we are considering the results and will announce our decision in the new year.
I also believe that carbon capture and storage will be a vital new technology in reducing carbon emissions around the world.
For many countries - including the US, China and India - coal is still the cheapest, most readily available form of energy and will remain so for decades to come. So if we are to have any chance of meeting our global climate goals, we must find ways of capturing and storing the carbon dioxide it produces.
I can announce today that we are launching a competition to build in Britain one of the world's first commercial CCS coal projects, demonstrating the full chain of CO2 capture, transport and storage.
And tomorrow in Beijing, the Chinese Government and the EU - led by the UK - will begin Phase 1 of the Near Zero Emission Coal Initiative, which will explore options for demonstrating CCS with coal fired power generation in China -- the first study of its kind in a country that is building two coal fired power stations a week.
We will also consider whether, if we can show that carbon capture and storage is technologically and commercially viable, it should be made mandatory in some form for all new British fossil fuel plants.
The two per cent of our total energy that now comes from renewables is much less than in most other European countries.
In the Energy White Paper we announced plans to triple the amount of electricity from renewables by 2015. But as the urgency of tackling climate change and achieving energy security increases, the case for more reliance on renewables has become more compelling.
That is why at the European Council in March Britain led the way to an agreement that by 2020 one fifth of all Europe's energy should come from renewables - a near three-fold increase.
The UK worked hard to get agreement to this target.
And let me make it absolutely clear: we are completely committed to meeting our share.
The European Commission will come forward with their proposals for how the overall target is to be divided between Member States in January, with a final decision expected in early 2009 --- so we do not yet know what the UK's contribution will be. But it is clear that over the next decade and beyond Britain will need to raise very significantly the proportion of our energy from renewable sources.
We must start planning for this now.
And let me tell the country: it will be a huge challenge.
It will be for the private sector to make the necessary investment but the government will do more to remove the planning and other obstacles that are currently holding renewables back.
We already plan to increase the capacity of offshore windfarms from less than half a gigawatt now to 8 gigawatts. The Secretary of State for Business will announce shortly details of our proposals to allow a further significant expansion.
To remove the barriers here I have asked the Secretaries of State for Defence, Business and Transport to step up their efforts, in cooperation with industry and the regulators, to identify and test technical solutions to the potential difficulties windfarms pose to air traffic and defence radar.
Under the Planning Bill, we will publish a National Policy Statement on the appropriate balance between enabling wind farms and protecting shipping.
And I have asked the Secretary of State for the Environment to ensure that our new Marine Bill responds sensitively to the environmental issues posed by offshore wind farm development.
We will also explore the potential for major new investment in energy from wave and tidal sources.
We have already announced a study of the feasibility of generating tidal energy from the River Severn: this alone could provide 5 per cent of Britain's electricity needs.
And the Secretary for Business is announcing today that we will be including tidal lagoons and barrages below one gigawatt capacity within the scope of the Renewables Obligation - potentially benefiting projects such as those being proposed for Rhyl and Swansea Bay.
Meeting our renewables target will also require:
* more onshore wind farms - sited in the right places;
* greater use of energy derived from waste;
* a major expansion of energy from biomass;
* and greater use of microgeneration, including, as costs come down, more solar power.
I recognise that windfarms and other new energy installations are often seen as a burden to the local communities living near them, while their benefits go to society at large. So I want to explore how local communities can themselves benefit from the economic opportunities they create.
Meeting our target will also require greater use of renewables to heat our homes and buildings. So we will introduce new measures to bring forward renewable heat, with a call for evidence in January prior to a full consultation.
And as we expand renewable heat we will need to ensure that, wherever feasible and economic, we generate electricity and heat together. So instead of all our energy being generated remotely, more can be supplied locally - making more efficient use of our energy resources.
Finally, in transport, we will do more to stimulate sustainable forms and sources of biofuels.
I take extremely seriously concerns about the impact of biofuels on deforestation, precious habitats and on food security. The UK is working to ensure a European sustainability standard is introduced as soon as possible --- and we will not support an increase in biofuels over current target levels until an effective standard is in place.
Increasing our renewable energy sources in all these ways will require national purpose and a shared national endeavour.
And we will also need to ensure that the costs for businesses and for consumers remain affordable.
So we will launch a consultation next year, inviting a serious national debate about how we are to achieve our targets.
And we will publish our full Renewable Energy Strategy the following spring - once the EU Directive is passed and we know what the UK's contribution will be.
In the meantime we will legislate, as promised, in our Energy Bill to reform the Renewables Obligation to bring forward newer technologies. And we will introduce in our Planning Bill new measures to speed up the planning system for major infrastructure projects, whilst ensuring the public are properly consulted.
Let me say that all three pieces of legislation - the Climate Change Bill, the Energy Bill and the Planning Bill - are vital to this endeavour. You cannot will the end if you do not also will the means.
This is what meeting our carbon goals means in practice - not just talking about it or making vague promises about the future but taking concrete action - nationally, in Europe and internationally - to achieve them.
When I said at the launch of the Stern Review that we were going to build a low carbon economy in the UK, I meant it.
I know this means facing up to the hard choices and taking tough decisions. That it means governing, not gimmickry. And that is what we will do.
And I want the British economy, British firms and everyone in Britain to benefit from this new low carbon future.
Last year I asked the Secretaries of State for Environment and Business to chair a commission of experts on how the UK could benefit economically from the new environmental agenda.
Today we are publishing the Commission's report which estimates that - from water treatment to global carbon markets - the UK's environmental industries are already worth more than £25 billion and employ some 400,000 people.
It shows that if tackling climate change represents the greatest of challenges for the world, it is also the greatest of opportunities for Britain. And just as in each of the three previous technological revolutions Britain played a leading role, we now have the opportunity to play a leading role in taking the world towards a low carbon future.
It is an opportunity I want this country to seize: a greener Britain where a new green economy provides greater prosperity and high quality jobs even as it protects the environment and provides a better quality of life for all.
So the Government will step up support for British companies as they look to develop and supply the goods and services of this new technological revolution.
I can tell you today that the first programmes of the £1 billion pound public-private Energy Technologies Institute will be focused on R&D in offshore wind, wave and tidal stream energy. And the new £370 million pound domestic Environmental Transformation Fund will help bring these technologies to market.
To ensure that we have the skills and the expertise for the environmental industries of the future, we will work with employers to create apprenticeship and 'Train to Gain' places in environmental industries and bring forward plans for a national skills academy in that sector.
And early next year the Government will convene a summit with the Regional Development Agencies, energy companies, universities, manufacturers, environmental service providers and NGOs to explore how we can maximise the economic opportunities of a low carbon future.
We have seen the excellent work being done to engage their members by groups like yourselves, the National Trust, Oxfam, Christian Aid, the Women's Institute and the RSPB.
We have all been impressed by the efforts of companies like B&Q, Marks and Spencer, Sky and Tesco who are empowering their customers to act as part of the 'We're In This Together' campaign.
But I believe there is even greater scope for business and the voluntary sector to work with Government to mobilise individuals to take action. So I have asked Fiona Reynolds of the National Trust and Ian Cheshire of B&Q to recommend how this might be achieved.
And I am determined too that the Government will meet its responsibilities and maintain its global leadership.
All of us - government, business, civil society and individuals - have a part to play.
Working apart we will surely fail. But working together I have no doubt that this is a challenge to which the human spirit, and our powers of ingenuity and enterprise, will rise.