Britain and Germany Engage Global Warming

Britain and Germany are to take forward the fight against global warming under a new partnership backed by leading industrialists businessmen and scientists. The two countries, whose greenhouse gas reductions are among the biggest in the world, are well placed to spearhead new initiatives in areas such as environmentally-friendly energy, climate friendly financial markets, greener cities and Arctic science.

In an unprecedented show of leadership between the two nations, a range of innovative recommendations are to be presented to Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, aimed at delivering a low carbon, less energy intensive world. The importance of the conference, coming just days after the Russian parliament’s decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, was further underlined by being opened in the British Embassy by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II during her State Visit to Germany. “We have had an astounding meeting of minds between some of the leading scientific, financial and industrial experts of both countries,” said Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and chair of the conference Climate Change: Meeting the Challenge Together. “Support has come from the highest level with the Queen opening the conference and Mister Blair requesting concrete outcomes upon which the UK government can act.” Speakers included Margaret Beckett, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jurgen Tritten, the German Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety and Edelgard Bulmahn, German Federal Minister for Education and Research. The recommendations will inform both the G8 and European Union presidencies which the United Kingdom assumes next year. Blair, who addressed the conference via a video message, has stated that climate change, along with Africa, is the UK’s top priority. “2004 has been an extraordinary year,” Sir David King, UK Chief Scientific Advisor. “We have had some of the worst weather-related natural disasters on record, and we have also had the positive outcome of the Kyoto Protocol with the Russians ratifying. This conference takes these issues forward and forges a new agenda for climate action that will help lead us to a more stable and secure future in both the developed and developing world”. Some key areas of progress as pointed out by the conference. Aviation Fuel Among the key findings and recommendations was a call for an end to the “anomaly” surrounding fuel for ships and planes. The conference advised Blair that an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax for aircraft and ships might bring these two transport sectors in line with road, rail and other forms of transport. Window of Opportunity Some 16 trillion US dollars worth of investment in new power plants and energy systems are likely to be made in the coming years. It is vital that this substantial sum is directed to more energy efficient forms of generation including cleaner coal, combined heat and power plants and renewables such as wind, wave and solar power. The delegates agreed that Britain and Germany should work to exploit this current ‘window of opportunity” to lead a cost effective fight against climate change. Germany and Britain, with a strong tradition in research, development and deployment of new energy technologies, are well placed Climate-Friendly Finance The conference recognized that the investment decisions of the finance sector could play a vital role in putting the planet on a more climate friendly path but that “city institutions were not yet fully on board”. Germany and Britain, both with key financial centers such as the City of London and Frankfurt, could play a pivotal role in bringing European and global pension funds, actuaries and insurers on board. The two countries, whose greenhouse gas reductions are scheduled to be below those agreed under the Kyoto Protocol, are well placed to champion new and deeper cuts in industrialized nations’ emissions. Targets and Green Cities The UK’s proposal of a 60 per cent reduction by 2050 and Germany’s of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, are in line with scientific consensus on what is needed, delegates are advising Blair. London and Berlin will also share experiences and plans to fight global warming which may become blue prints for cities and local authorities elsewhere. The German capital has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent since 1990 and plans to cut back by a further 40 per cent. London, which has a new Climate Change Agency, plans to reduce by 20 per cent its emissions by 2010. Under the agreement, the two capitals will share expertise and hold high level meetings on issues ranging from transport to energy efficient buildings in order to both meet their respective targets. Scientific Research Delegates also recommended strengthening and broadening the two countries’ world-beating scientific ties in areas such as climate change impact in the Arctic. Under a new agreement German and British scientists are likely to share research vessels and high-latitude, long range, aircraft. Scientific studies into how to manage densely populated areas in a warming world, with London and Berlin as the first subjects, are also being considered. Awareness Campaigns Europe-wide awareness campaigns are also part of the recommendations. Delegates called for witty and thought provoking advertisements similar to those already launched in parts of Scandinavia to raise public interest and action in combating global warming.

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