» Monday, October 30, 2006

Climate Change

Asked if the Government had changed its mind with regards to the Climate Change Bill, the PMOS said that it had not. As people knew, there were certain proprieties around The Queen’s Speech, and therefore, the PMOS said that he was limited to what he could say. David Miliband would say some more in the House this afternoon, therefore it was better to leave it to him.

Asked if the Climate Change Bill would have annual binding targets in it, and if not, why not, the PMOS said again that he was not going to talk about legislation in relation to The Queen’s Speech. David Miliband would give more details this afternoon. In terms of annual targets, as the PMOS had said last week, the issue was not targets, but rather, it was whether they should be annual. The problem about making annual targets was the ebb and flow in terms of economies and the weather, and therefore, the ebb and flow that there could be in terms of emissions. We therefore believed that a slightly longer timescale was more realistic. The PMOS reminded people that as Professor Stern had said, the key thing was that it was a false choice to believe that people had to choose between growth and cutting emissions. The reality was that only if there was economic growth at the same time could the new technology that was needed be developed. If there was no economic growth, then there would not be enough money to transfer the new technology to the developing countries. Therefore, there had to be growth and environmental action at the same time.

Put that David Miliband may not set out the whole Bill, and would further details about it follow, the PMOS said that an indication to legislate could be indicated in general without saying precisely how and when.

Put that the Prime Minister before the election last year had seemed to suggest that it would be laughable to think about taxes on air travel, and had his position on that now changed, the PMOS replied that as we had said in a joint letter with the Deputy Prime Minister at the EU Informal Summit in Finland last week, we had called for EU action on aviation, and for it to be admitted to an EU-wide trading emissions scheme. The reason why we had put the emphasis on Europe, as indeed was the underlying analysis, and the fundamental point about the Stern Report today, because this was an issue in which primarily the focus had to be on global solutions to a global problem. As the Stern report underlined again, we were 2% of the problem, and that problem was not solved by solely concentrating on the 2%. We did have a contribution to make, and that was why we had announced a range of domestic measures, primarily aimed at putting an incentive into the system to encourage greater energy efficiency and research and development into combating climate change.

The PMOS pointed out that the number of jobs which were associated with green technology in the UK had risen from 177,000 in 2001 to 400,000 in 2006. Green technology equalled jobs. What we were now after was international agreement, firstly on stabilising emissions, and then, on creating a series of mechanisms such as we agreed, for example, with the Governor of California when we visited recently, on a link between there and here on trading schemes. We wanted that to apply to Europe as well. The PMOS said that the emphasis had to be on the global approach.

Asked if there was a problem that by highlighting a global approach, would it be harder to carry the public here with us because they would think that we were not the worst offenders, therefore it was not their problem, the PMOS replied that whether it was looked at from the point of view of climate change, or whether it was looked at from the point of view of energy security, and we were going to change from being a net exporter to a net importer of energy, it was in this country’s interests to take action on energy. It was also in this country’s interests to move to being a low Carbon economy, so it was in the UK’s interests that we took the measures domestically to achieve that. As a side effect, it also gave us greater weight in arguing a case internationally, but the hard economics of this country, as well as the world, and the PMOS said that this was the bottom line of the Stern Report, was that it was in our economic interest to take action in the 10-15 year window that the Prime Minister had identified before the EU Informal Summit, rather than waiting. If we did not, then this country would suffer just as much as any other from the cut in world economic output of between 5-20%.

The PMOS reiterated that it was in our interests to action domestically, but to also recognise that that action had to be part of a broader global effort. That was why we had put so much effort into putting climate change on the agenda for Gleneagles, and why we had put so much effort since then in continuing that dialogue to get an agreement on what happens post-2012.

Asked if there was a formal communications strategy plan to try and sell the Stern Report worldwide, and also, was Al Gore advising us, or advising on behalf of us, the PMOS said that with regards to Al Gore, the journalist should speak to the Treasury about Al Gore’s role. On the broader point, the PMOS asked people to think about where we were even in the run up to Gleneagles in terms of the acceptance of a broader argument. In the run up to Gleneagles, we were making a case that energy security and environmental concerns were the flipside of the same coin, but it was a new concept, and people thought that frankly, it was simply an excuse we were putting forward on behalf of the Americans and others who had not signed up to the Kyoto Treaty under President Clinton. Now, if people went to the recent EU Summit, it was accepted as almost conventional wisdom, as they recognised that to address the issues of climate change, and energy security worldwide industry had to be incentivised in order to develop the new technologies that would allow low Carbon economies, whether that was with alternative fuels or more energy efficient industry or domestic appliances.

The PMOS said that the agenda had moved on. The Stern Report gave us the economic underpinning to put alongside the environmental case, which was compelling. The economic case was equally compelling, so we now had a two-prong attack on those who did not agree that this was the issue that needed to be tackled now. The economics said that it had to be, so did the environmental analysis.

Asked if the Government had been looking at the idea of doing an environmental report, as well as an economic one with a similar scale and analysis, the PMOS said that our experience would suggest that there were fewer and fewer people who were disputing the environmental analysis, as it had become almost conventional wisdom. In terms of pushing it forward, what was important now was that we put the emphasis on what we needed to do worldwide to incentivise industry to produce the technology. That was partly why, both as a goal in itself, it was right to go for stabilisation, but also as a way of saying to industry that we were serious about the need to develop a new technology and investing in the RND.

Asked that if we did not get China and India signed up to the stabilisation goal, would it all fall apart, the PMOS reminded people of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, where the Prime Minister said, somewhat controversially at the time, that Kyoto in itself was not enough. The Prime Minister had said that precisely because it was not only that the US was not part of the Kyoto Treaty, but also that India and China were not part of it either. Therefore, that was why we had developed the approach we did going into Gleneagles where we invited not only the G8, but also the +5 as well to include India and China in the dialogue. We believed that India and China were taking this issue very seriously, and if people looked at their interests in technology etc, they showed all the signs of taking it very seriously, but we needed it as soon as possible. We also needed to continue to develop, as we had identified at Gleneagles, the means of transferring the low Carbon technology to China and India, as well as developing it in the developed world.

Asked if we were "trailblazing" or were we guinea pigs in that we were showing the rest of the world that we could do it with regards to cutting Carbon emissions etc, the PMOS said that in terms of the argument, we had been at the cutting edge. In terms of the action that we had taken, we were also at the cutting edge. In terms of making it work, we needed the rest of the world to take action too. Because the argument had moved on, that was a much easier prospect than it was some time ago. We needed to keep pushing the argument, but we believed that we were making progress. If people looked at the EU discussions in Finland recently, then that would suggest that we were.

Asked again if we saw ourselves as trailblazers, the PMOS replied that we saw ourselves as doing the right things in the interests of this country; if the journalist wanted to turn that into a headline, that was up to him.

Asked if we accepted that there was no possibility that during the Prime Minister’s premiership that Carbon emissions had been cut, the PMOS said that he had always made it an iron rule that he did not get into forecasting statistics before they came out, and he would not do it now. If people looked at the targets overall, we were going to meet double our targets for greenhouse emissions.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. From a search on steaknife the following was produced:

    Margo Kingston’s Webdiary – smh.com.au

    7/7 had a ‘steakknife’ feeling about it, but I didn’t think anyone can be … And, no, it doesn’t strike me as strange there may have been informants who …
    webdiary.smh.com.au/archives/darlene_taylor_comment/001296.html – Similar pages

    What are these people insinuating about climate change? The general public demand to know how far steaknifes license to kill extends? How many innocent peoples lives will this pathetic excuse for a human be content to ruin. Why should the general public at large have to suffer knife culture because of this loser? The general public is sick of boys of the church of the poisen mind like this steaknife. Why dont steaknife rellocate to New York!!!!

    Comment by Nobullman — 31 Oct 2006 on 3:46 pm | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


October 2006
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Sep   Nov »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh