Beckett: greater use of renewable energy needed to combat climate change

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has called for radical change in the way the world generates and uses energy, saying that an international approach to tackling climate change was vital as no country could solve the problem alone.

Speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change in Exeter, Mrs Beckett said she welcomed the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol later this month, although she admitted it would only shave about two or three per cent off the predicted 30% rise in global CO2 emissions from 1990 – 2010.

“Kyoto is an essential first step and shows what can be done when the international community works together. But, we need to move forward through low carbon technology, greater energy efficiency, emissions trading schemes and the clean development mechanism which provides a novel way to slow growth in developing country emissions while at the same time providing resources and new technologies that will aid development,” she said.

The speech was seen as fairly hypocritical by some. Only a few days earlier, Friends of the Earth had criticised the Government for not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying emissions now were higher than when Labour came to power.

Mrs Beckett said that further temperature rises over the next few decades were virtually unavoidable now and that significant impacts may occur as a result, but that urgent action was essential to reduce emissions and avert the worst effects.

“This meeting provides a tremendous opportunity for scientists to influence the debate, both for our G8 Presidency and beyond the post 2012 Kyoto period, as well as helping the world to move to a sustainable future and to avoid the worst dangers of man-made climate change,” she said.

Despite emissions rising since Labour came to power, the UK is still on course to meet its Kyoto obligations and is doing better than competitor nations such as France and Germany.

By David Hopkins

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