That is the opinion of the RSPB’s chief executive Graham Wynne, who said that resources and attention are now increasingly being shifted to tackling climate change, at the expense of other pressing problems such as biodiversity.

Speaking at a debate organised by the Foreign Policy Centre, he said NGOs like the RSPB found it much easier to get meetings with ministers if they used the phrase “climate change”.

“It is as if a second front has opened up and the instant rush was ‘lets move all of our resources to this second front – climate change’. The emphasis has shifted massively,” Mr Wynne said.

“Unless we address environmental sustainability across the board and don’t just get hung up on climate change, then the consequences are extremely dire.”

He said Government environmental policies were incoherent and called for ministers to embed sustainability across all departments.

Gareth Thomas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for International Development (DFID), argued that the interest in climate change could be harnessed to tackle other green issues and Government was already working to do this.

He said: “My sense is that we need to use the momentum and the political will that’s beginning to develop to tackle climate change to tackle wider environmental degradation.”

He said increased use of incentives or green taxes, trade policies that promote sustainability, more joined-up thinking about environmental issues, and more effective international institutions to tackle environmental thinking could achieve this aim.

Richard Black, environment correspondent for BBC News, found the BBC’s coverage of climate change in 2007 had swamped other interconnected environmental issues.

By the end of October, more than 1,000 stories had been broadcast on climate change, compared to just four on desertification and four on deforestation.

Kate Martin

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