Robin Cook announces climate change challenge fund

British companies are being invited to contribute to the Climate Change Challenge Fund, a new initiative designed to make use of British expertise in clean technologies and renewable energies.

In announcing the joint DETR/Foreign Office initiative at the ERM Environment Forum, ‘Britain and the Global Environment’, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the fund would be used to help developing countries to build up their capacity to combine healthy growth with low emissions of greenhouse gases.

“To start it off the Foreign Office is putting half a million pounds into the fund,” Robin Cook told an audience of 250 business leaders and environmentalists. “We hope that British companies with an interest in energy and the environment will at least match this sum.”

Cook called for “models of economic development that are also environmentally sustainable.” Water resources, fish stocks, declining forests and the ozone layer were all issues that had to be addressed.

British Overseas Territories under threat included the British Antarctic Territory – “a barometer for climate change and atmospheric pollution” – The Pitcairns, home of the world’s best preserved coral atoll, and the Falklands where 22 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded.

“We will shortly be publishing a White Paper on Overseas Territories,” said Cook. “Our aims are to build sustainability and proper resource management into their economies, to protect their fragile eco-systems from further degradation, and to find viable alternatives to the depletion of scarce resources.”

The Foreign Secretary also used the event to announce proposals for a new British-German forum on the environment. With his opposite number in Germany, Josschka Fischer, Mr Cook is proposing a forum “to bring together not just our governments but our non-governmental organisations and our businesses as well, to look at some of the strategic problems we face on the environment.”

Leading institutions and the European Union itself should continue to play their part in the cause of environmental protection, he said. “All institutions, from the European Union to the United Nations, should not only conduct full assessments of the impact of their activities on the environment, but open up their working in ways that are now the norm for international treaties on the environment.”

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