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British DPM Prescott’s Comments On Kyoto Protocol

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson has welcomed British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s comments on Britain’s support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

In a speech at Parliament last night Mr Prescott said there was “no doubt that climate change is the most serious environmental threat to mankind today” and that Britain was on course to ratify the protocol next year. Mr Prescott complimented New Zealand – including under previous National governments – for the role it had played in development of the protocol, and rejected arguments for delaying ratification.

“If we had listened to the same argument on the Montreal Protocol we would not have reversed the hole in the ozone layer. Using it now as an excuse for doing nothing on climate change is the modern equivalent of continuing to argue that the Earth is flat. The threat of climate change demands we take the first step of Kyoto now.

“Not to do so is to betray our responsibilities to our own future and our children’s future. That message is being recognised the world over, including in Europe and Japan who have said since Marrakesh that they are preparing for ratification.”

Mr Prescott said concern about climate change was shared by leaders in developing countries, which will not initially have binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the protocol. He noted that China’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.5 percent between 1996 and 1999 despite 25 percent economic growth. The protocol was a “quite remarkable” consensus agreement between more than 180 countries, Mr Prescott said, and the Bush Administration’s rejection of it was “not the end of the line”.

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“I am hopeful that we can deal with some of the US objections – just as I am hopeful that in the medium term some of the richer developing countries will adopt targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr Prescott said the battle against climate change could not be won without the engagement and support of business. “Business has begun to see that our Kyoto targets can be achieved by ‘gain not pain’ by improving the environment at the same time as making money.”


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