» Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Cliamte change

Asked if the Prime Minster believed that it was impractical to expect people to give up cheap flights, the PMOS went over what this country, led by the Prime Minister, had done in terms of climate change.  We will be the only European country to double our Kyoto target in terms of emissions.  We had announced a whole series of efficiency measures in terms of combating climate change domestically.  We had also developed things such as the use of bio-fuels domestically. 

We were also leading in the EU in a push for an EU trading emissions scheme, which would include aviation emissions.  We had also established the Gleneagles dialogue on climate change, so we were right at the cutting edge of leading the debate for a post 2012 framework.  However, the Prime Minister’s approach has always been that the problems of climate change cannot be addressed by hurting either the domestic or the world economy.  If this was to happen, then money spent on research and development to develop new technologies would be reduced.  Developing nations would also be stopped from being able to develop, so they would end up paying the price for a problem that was not their creation.  Therefore the best thing to do was to have a world economy which could afford to invest in research and development for new technology. 

As a matter of interest, a large part of that research was happening in the Untied States.  In this country, some 400,000 jobs were dependent on new technology in terms of climate change.  This all had to be put in the context of that philosophical approach.  Harming the economy, domestic or global, was not the solution to climate change.

Asked specifically what the Prime Minister’s take was on cheap flights, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had set out his review in terms of flights, which was that the answer was to develop more efficient aircraft and to maintain the world economy.  The answer on aviation and its effect on the world’s economy could not be isolated.  Asked further that if this was the case then what was the point of raising tax on flying, the PMOS replied that it was for the reasons set out by the Chancellor.  In terms of the aviation industry, as Douglas Alexander had said this morning, the biggest development would be including aviation emissions as part of the EU trading scheme.

Asking if it was the government’s aim to try and discourage people in any way to take holidays, the PMOS replied that it was not the government’s aim to harm either the domestic or world economy.  A buoyant world economy was needed to fund research and development which would lead to not just more efficient aviation traffic, but also energy saving measures across the board.  That was the basis on which the Prime Minister had always worked. 

Put to him that the Prime Minister therefore believed that the threat of global warming, which he was continuing to take so seriously, could be dealt with without consumers really affecting their lifestyles, the PMOS pointed the questioner to what had already been said, which was that what we had to do was find more effective, energy efficient ways of doing what we do.  Hence the investments that were already being made in energy efficient measures and hence our overall energy review, and the emphasis placed on both renewable and cleaner forms of energy such as nuclear.  What should not be done was to address climate change by harming the world economy. 

Asked if this meant that the Prime Minister believed the consumer would not have to take any ‘pain’ in this way, like taking fewer holidays, the PMOS replied that what had to be done was to find more energy efficient ways of achieving the aim of reducing emissions.  That was why the government was taking the international measures it had been, and why it needed to encourage the sharing of technology with China and India.  As the Prime Minister had said, if we were to cut all our emissions, they would be made up by China within 2 years.

Asked what the Prime Minister thought of the argument that if consumers voted with their feet and started to take fewer cheap flights, that would encourage airline industries to change their practices, rather than the other way around, the PMOS replied that the journalist had ignored the fact that the airline industry worldwide had already begun to look at trying to have more efficient aircraft.  The conference the Prime Minister attended in California for instance saw representatives from the airline industry, including Richard Branson of Virgin, talk about precisely this aspect.  They were doing this because of the economics and because of climate change.  As the Prime Minister had always said, they were flipsides of the same coin.  The economics and the need to address climate change were driving us in the same direction. 

Asked if the earlier answer gave polluters the license to carry on polluting if they can show that they are increasing economic growth, the PMOS replied that it had not, this was a simplistic caricature. Measures were being made such as the EU emissions trading scheme, this was exactly the message we needed to address the issue.  If the world economy was cut back, then it would harm the developing countries and also harm the development of the very technology needed to make it more efficient.  Looking at the development of power stations in China and India, what was needed was to make them much cleaner, and to get the technology with which to do this.

Asked if the impact the Prince of Wales cutting back on the flights he made was ‘futile’, the PMOS replied that he was not the Prince of Wales’ spokesman.

Put to him that the PM was hard on 4x4s but not hard on flights because the latter had worldwide implications, the PMOS replied that in terms of the overall situation, what had to be recognised was that there was no point taking action domestically unless action was also taken internationally.  That was precisely what was being done by pushing for aviation to be included as part of the EU trading scheme.  Asked specifically about 4x4s, the PMOS replied that we were taking domestic measures, not just in a punitive sense, but also in a positive sense by promoting the use of bio-fuels for instance.  Asked if the Prime Minister still owned or drove a people carrier, the PMOS replied that this was his private business, but his transport was as much governed by security needs as by anything else.

Asked if Ian Pearson was wrong to say what he did about Ryanair, the PMOS replied that we had said what he had said about Ian Pearson and that that was a different issue.  The issue here was whether world or domestic economies were harmed, and in doing so prevented what was trying to be achieved.

Put to him that the Prime Minister’s use of the word ‘impractical’ implied that he was running scared of a domestic backlash as he tried to crackdown on cheap flights, the PMOS replied that this was not the case.  What the Prime Minister was recognising was that if the choice was presented between a growing economy and climate change, then people were going to choose a growing economy.  But that was a false choice, and people should not be faced with a false choice.  To develop research and development into new technology that would be necessary to make more efficient use of energy, whether this was aviation, power production, or domestic appliances, a growing economy was needed.   If there was not a growing economy, then there would not be the research and development that would produce that technology.  Technology itself was not the only answer, that was why we had taken the international measures that we had, and that was why we would achieve double our Kyoto targets.

Put to him that the Guardian headline ‘Carry on flying’ was therefore right, as this was all part of the growing economy, the PMOS replied that the important thing was that the consequences of flying were addressed.  This was being done by including aviation emissions in the EU trading scheme. 

Asked if fewer foreign holidays would shrink the British economy, as it could be argued that this would cause the economy to grow, the PMOS replied that it would certainly shrink the world economy.

Put to him that with the best will in the world if someone owned a 4×4 and wanted to buy a green car, then the options were extremely limited, and would the Prime Minister like the car manufactures to produce more green cars, the PMOS replied that he was not going to turn into a Top Gear commentator.  He added that the amount of money now being spent by the motor industry and by industry in general in the energy area was increasing all the time.  The production of cars that could run on bio-fuels, certainly in the United States and probably in Europe as well, was also increasing all the time. So the market was working to produce more energy efficient cars.

Asked to expand on the 400,000 jobs in the UK that depended on new technology, the PMOS replied that these were jobs that were directly related to the development and use of more energy efficient technology and related to climate change.  This again was a sign of the way in which the trend was going.  It was a combination of research and development and manufacturing energy efficient products and so on.  The UK was one of the world leaders in that area.  This was one of the things that came out of the California trip, a realisation of just how big a part the UK was playing in the overall development of new technology in this area.  Asked if this figure included car workers, the PMOS replied that he did not think the figure did include car workers, as it only included workers directly related to climate change.

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

1 Comment »

  1. Questions are Green tax, cheaper and not existing flights tickets, laptop virtual flights from space to any earthly destination etc. So many questions! And you can find so many answers. Do you think all answers are true? Some time the authors are with small or no any experience about.

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    Question is fist how to find people with experience and then how to meet. Internet is the best tool, please, look at our idea!
    <a href="http://www.airline-ticket-cheap-flight.com/">http://www.airline-ticket-cheap-flight.com/</a&gt;
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    Support team

    Comment by Cheaper airline tickets — 17 Jan 2007 on 4:10 pm | Link

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