Political heavyweights put spotlight on climate change

Listen to live audio on edie.net from the Environment Minister and Shadow Environment Minister, as they set out their respective climate stalls at the EIC National Conference 2007.

Climate change and the environment have rapidly moved up the political agenda in the past 18 months to become a key issue for debate as each of the parties strives to prove it holds the answers to tackling the threat of global warming.

The Environmental Industries Commission’s annual conference gave senior members of the Labour Government and the Conservative Party the chance to lay bare their plans – and criticisms – to experts in the environmental field.

Delegates were also given the rare opportunity to quiz the policy-makers face-to-face and attempt to exert their influence on future debates in Westminster and Whitehall.

Click on the ‘play’ icon to listen to Greg Barker’s speech

Greg Barker, the Conservative shadow minister for the environment, went on the attack in his speech as he cast a critical eye over the environmental policies announced by the Government in recent weeks.

He conceded that Tony Blair had understood the importance of tackling climate change but questioned the effectiveness of Gordon Brown’s leadership, and slammed what he saw as an unnecessary delay in setting targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Barker also offered an insight into the work he does behind the scenes, describing a meeting with Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the co-operation that can exist between rival parties away from the “Punch and Judy politics” of Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Click on the ‘play’ icon to listen to Greg Barker’s Q and A session

Delegates wasted no time in putting Mr Barker on the spot when the floor was opened to questions following his speech, as he was pressed to reveal more about how the Conservatives would do things differently if they were in power.

Click on the ‘play’ icon to listen to Phil Woolas’s speech

Minister for the Environment Phil Woolas was next to take the stage and decided actions speak louder than words as he outlined the practical steps the Government is taking to address the threat that Nicholas Stern’s report so graphically illustrated last year.

Although the Climate Change Bill has dominated the headlines, Mr Woolas reminded the conference that tackling global warming and protecting the environment is about more than CO2 targets.

Strategies for dealing with waste, air quality, the marine environment and renewable energy were put under the spotlight in his keynote speech.

Click on the ‘play’ icon to listen to Phil Woolas’ Q and A session

Mr Woolas also faced a tough line of questioning from the delegates, who relished the opportunity to put a Government minister on the spot, quizzing him on emissions reductions targets and European regulations.

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