‘The security of our planet and our humanity’ rests on agreement at the Copenhagen climate summit, Gordon Brown said today, calling for an annual donation of £60 billion to help less industrialised nations deal with the impacts of climate change.
‘Over recent years the world has woken to the reality of climate change, but the fact is that we have not yet joined together to act against it,’ Brown said in a speech at London Zoo.
Agreement on a successor to the Kyoto protocol will be decided at UN talks in the Danish capital in December this year, and would involve ‘a calculus of national and collective interests, each yielding something for the common good’, the prime minister said.
Climate change minister Ed Miliband said Britain and the EU voting bloc of which it is part wanted to legislate for an emissions peak in rich industrialised nations by 2015. Climate experts have said emissions cuts of 25-40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 will be required in order to ensure global temperatures rise no further than 2C.
Much will depend on the US, however, where President Barack Obama is encouraging congress to pass a bill that will see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, and more than 80 per cent by 2050. The targets are less ambitious than the EU’s, but will pave the way for greater US leadership on the issue of climate change.
The UK Government’s proposals will be spelled out in a new report, The Road to Copenhagen, which will include calls for an agreement to limit temperature increases, a deal supporting a move to a global low-carbon economy and the £60 billion adaptation package.
International development minister Douglas Alexander has called climate change ‘a development issue’, and last year for the first time the less industrialised world accounted for more than half global emissions.
Speaking in advance of the speech, Friends of the Earth (FoE) executive director Andy Atkins said the Government had shown ‘genuine leadership’ in legislating against emissions at home, but warned 'a strong and fair global agreement on climate change will fail unless the Government unveils a world-leading package of proposals.'
Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr praised Brown for ‘becoming the first major leader to put a figure on how much money is needed. ‘At last a G8 leader is talking about the right order of magnitude, three-digit numbers and billions instead of millions,’ he said. ‘Without these kind of sums there won't be a deal in Copenhagen, and without a deal the world faces a grave future.
‘Gordon Brown’s speech was a bold attempt to resuscitate the international climate change negotiations, which risk ending in oblivion,’ said Tom Sharman, head of climate change for ActionAid. ‘The challenge is to turn principles into action. He needs to win international support for global climate taxes to raise the $180 billion that developing countries require to tackle climate change.’
Meanwhile Liberal Democrat energy and climate spokesman Simon Hughes accused the Government of hypocrisy and called upon it to lead by example. ‘If we intend to preach to others, we cannot do so while building dirty coal power stations and new runways,’ he said.