Gavin Strang MP addressed a conference on climate change held from 2pm on Sunday 6 March 2005, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Excerpts from Gavin Strang’s speech follow:
‘There is no challenge facing the world today more important than climate change.
‘Whatever next steps we take, the question will be what to do about America. The world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol shortly after President Bush was first elected.
‘Isolating the US in the hope that it will re-engage in international dialogue is not a credible strategy. However, the Prime Minister has said that if America wants the rest of the world to be part of the agenda that it has set, then America must be part of the rest of the world’s agenda too.
‘Concerns about the economic impact of measures to address climate change are understandable. However, the link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth are more complicated than many would think.
‘Britain’s view is that tackling climate change does not need to jeopardise economic growth. Extensive economic modelling has demonstrated that if the UK acts with other industrialised countries, the cost of making a 60% cut in our CO2 emissions by 2050 could be only 0.5-2% of our GDP. This is an annual average of between only 0.01 and 0.02%. And the costs of doing nothing could be enormous.
‘The UK has unprecedented opportunities for international action in 2005. This country is president of the G8 this year, and of the EU in the second half of the year, and the UK has pledged to use both of these presidencies to address climate change.
‘The G8 accounts for over 65% of global GDP and 47% of global CO2 emissions – and crucially, the G8 includes the United States of America. So action by the G8 could have a real impact.
‘The UK’s Presidency of the G8 will aim to secure definitive agreement once and for all on the science and the urgent need to tackle climate change. There is international consensus that climate change is with us, and most are now convinced that man-made climate change is with us.
‘The British Government and I believe the vast majority of the people of these islands are convinced of the need and desirability of decisive action to tackle climate change.’