Germany and Britain form climate change partnership

Britain and Germany have announced plans to take the fight against global warming forward under a new partnership backed by leading industrialists, businessmen and scientists.

The plans were announced at the British-German Climate Change Conference in Berlin, opened by HM the Queen. The British Embassy in Berlin issued a statement saying the two countries were well placed to spearhead new initiatives in areas such as environmentally-friendly energy, climate friendly financial markets, greener cities and Arctic science.

Secretary of State for the Environment Margaret Beckett said the UK and Germany had for many years shared a close relationship on a number of environmental issues, adding that the conference illustrated how the two governments had been working to strengthen this bond in the fields of climate change, climate science and technology.

We want to seize the opportunity to generate a fresh and reinvigorated strategic vision for putting the world on a path to a sustainable low-carbon future, taking account both of the scientific evidence and the technological challenge, she said.

She cited the invaluable work the Germans were conducting on renewable energy and energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies such as photovoltaics, fuel cells and carbon sequestration.

Scientists from the two nations have drawn up a list of recommendations to present to Tony Blair, aimed at delivering a low carbon, less energy intensive world. The recommendations will inform the G8 and European Presidencies which the UK assumes next year. Mr Blair has said that climate change, along with Africa, will be the UK s top priority.

The recommendations include a call to bring aviation and ships into the emissions trading scheme, or to levy a form of carbon tax on the two sectors; recommendation that investment in new power plants is directed more to energy efficiency and renewables; that investment decisions of the finance sector play a pivotal role in climate emissions but that the city institutions were not yet fully on board and should make more of an effort; and that cities themselves should follow London and Berlin s examples of setting targets for emissions reduction.

Delegates also recommended strengthening the two countries scientific ties and building a Europe wide awareness campaign.

Sir David King, the UK Chief Scientific Advisor praised the close cooperation between British and German scientists and congratulated John Schellnhuber, Research Director at the Tyndall Centre and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research on his vital role in setting up the conference.

2004 has been an extraordinary year. We have had some of the worst weather-related natural disasters on record, and we have also had the positive outcome of the Kyoto Protocol with the Russians ratifying. This conference takes these issues forward and forges a new agenda for climate action that will help lead us to a more stable and secure future in both the developed and developing world.

Klaus Toepfor, Executive Director of the UNEP and chair of the climate change conference said: There is no question that human-made climate change is a reality and that leadership is urgently needed to take the fight against its devastating impacts forward. This leadership is now here under the two industrialised countries whose emission reductions are so far among the highest and deepest in the world.

By David Hopkins

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