Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rich countries must be prepared to make deeper cuts in emissions: Prescott

Former deputy prime minister launches climate change campaign and calls for equalisation of emissions per capita

Developed countries will have to take the lead in fighting climate change by carrying a greater share of the burden of reducing emissions, John Prescott will say today.

Securing a deal at Copenhagen later this year "will be 10 times more difficult than Kyoto", said Prescott, the Council of Europe's "rapporteur" on climate change, and a Kyoto protocol negotiator.

The former deputy prime minister will say at the launch in east London of a new climate change campaign called "New Earth Deal":

"Securing a deal at Copenhagen will be 10 times more difficult than Kyoto.

"We believe that any deal negotiated must consider the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

"That means that social justice and the reduction of poverty must be at the very heart of any agreement. It also means equalising greenhouse gas emissions per head in each country.

"The climate change we're experiencing across the world has been caused by the richer developed countries. They must now recognise the central principle that the polluter pays.

"But since climate change affects all nations whatever their size, wealth or population, a consensus is absolutely necessary for a binding and sustainable agreement.

"Failure is not an option at Copenhagen and that's why our Europe-wide campaign will be galvanising public opinion to lobby governments to make that deal."

The campaign will include a Road to Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to be held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in September.

It will be attended by politicians and environmentalists from more than 60 countries, and will be opened by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Rajendra Pachauri and feature a contribution from former US vice president Al Gore.

There will also be a social networking website where people can learn about the issues, follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook, do their own climate change deal and have it automatically sent to their Council of Europe politician and the environment minister for their own countries.

The campaign will also feature a tour of schools and educational establishments where Prescott and other members of the Council of Europe assembly will deliver a presentation on climate change and listen to young people's concerns.

On Sunday, Prescott risked the wrath of green campaigners by warning a "plan B" may be necessary if agreement is not reached between the main parties. "A lot of people fear that if you moved away from those [2020 and 2050] targets you would get the NGOs screaming and shouting, 'you have sold out', but I had to ignore them to get the deal at Kyoto'," he said.

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