Rt Hon Dynamic David MP
Monday 22 January 2007 11:12
Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (National)
The fight against climate change: Building momentum through the G8 process - Speech by David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
At the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 22 January, 2007
I am delighted to be able to address the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. This summit brings together a remarkable collection of people from across nations, and from across different parts of society, from business and NGOs to Government and the public sector.
Across the world, questions of energy security, economic security and climate security are coming together. In the past, the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development pulled in different directions, today, they increasingly have common and complimentary solutions. That is the significance of today's Sustainable Development Summit.
My argument today is this:
* The scientific debate about climate change is over. Climate change is happening, it is man-made and it will have disastrous efforts for all of us. India will face particularly acute consequence from climate change and therefore has a particularly strong interest in securing a solution.
* In the past year, the economic arguments have changed dramatically, and I hope decisively. The Stern Report shows that globally, it will cost far more to deal with the problem, than invest in the solution. It is in our financial self-interest to tackle the problem, not just our moral duty.
* The practical solutions and technologies exist to avoid climate change from wind, wave and solar power to Carbon Capture and Storage. India has a unique opportunity to be a leapfrog economy that moves straight to low-carbon development.
* This year's challenge is to make progress on the politics and the policy. Climate change is a global problem and will require a global agreement. In 2007, we must begin to agree the building blocks of an international framework that delivers a fair balance of responsibility between industrialised and industrialising countries.
Let me begin by setting out the problem. The basic facts are these: Atmospheric CO 2 is now around 40% higher than before the industrial revolution.
This is resulting in a rise in temperature of 0.7 degrees in the last century, almost certainly unprecedented in human civilisation.
If it carries on unchecked, the effects will be on people not just nature; immediate as well as long term.
Climate change will affect every country. But the impact will be greater in India, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The joint India-UK project on climate change highlighted some of the impacts on India:
Water resources are already under strain here. India has 16 per cent of global population but only 4 per cent of global water resources. Across India the hydrological cycle is predicted to become more intense, both with higher annual average rainfall as well as longer periods of drought. Agriculture constitutes the single largest component of India's economy, nearly 27% of the GDP. A temperature increase of 2C is predicted to result in a 10-16% reduction in rice yields, while a 4C rise led to a 21-30% reduction.
India has a low-lying coastline. India will be one of the countries most vulnerable to sea level rise. Coastal infrastructure, tourist activity, inshore explorations are at risk. Large scale emigration from coastal zones is expected due to submergence of coastal-lines after sea levels have risen. This will create large numbers of environmental refugees especially from low-lying delta regions.
Other impacts include the changes to the makeup of India's forests, in which 200,000 villages are located in or near; higher rates of certain diseases, such as Malaria, and damage to railways and infrastructure from higher temperatures, increased rainfall and flooding and sea-level rises. In short, no part of life in India will remain unaffected. The effects will be economic and social, not just environmental.
Practical solutions: 3 D energy revolution
The challenge is immense. But the economics point to the requirement not the impossibility of action. As the Stern report showed, the impact of climate change is estimated to be equivalent to a loss in average world consumption per head of 5-20% per year. This is far greater than the expected cost of cutting emissions which, consistent with a 550ppm CO2e stabilisation trajectory, is 1% of GDP by the middle of the century. To be pro-economic growth is to be pro environmental sustainability.
The positive news is that the practical and technological solutions are increasingly available and increasingly cost-effective. Let me highlight some key drivers of change across all countries, what you could term a 3-D energy revolution.
First, demand management. We are reducing demand by creating homes, cars and electrical appliances that are far more energy efficient. For instance, a hybrid car is about 30 per cent more efficient than its petrol-only equivalent. Homes built in the UK today are 40 per cent more efficient that those built in 2001, and we have recently committed to ensuring all homes are 'zero carbon' by 2016. The first industrial revolution saw mechanisation and mass production revolutionise labour productivity. A similar revolution is now underway in resource productivity. Economic growth is becoming decoupled from energy growth.
Second, all countries need to decarbonise their energy production. Renewable electricity sources are becoming more widely available at reasonable prices, from biofuels and biomass, to wind and solar power; and there is the prospect of diverting the carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations underground via carbon capture and storage (CCS). Third, we are increasingly decentralising our energy system. Since the opening of the world's first thermal power station in London in 1882 by Thomas Edison, the trend over the past century has been towards increasingly centralised power generation. While centralised production will remain critical, some countries are showing that we can increasingly rely on more decentralised and distributed power generation - from biomass fuelled combined heat and power stations serving a community, to individual citizens producing energy through solar or wind power and selling their energy back onto the grid. In the next thirty years, we could see the same transformation in energy production that we have seen in computers over the past generation - with a growing reliance on small computers connected via a network rather than a traditional mainframe. For instance, a large proportion of energy in Denmark and the Netherlands is produced on a decentralised basis - a transition that took around 20 years. But while the UK is having to make a transition from high-carbon to low carbon development, India has a unique opportunity. Forecasts suggest that by 2030, India's energy requirements will go from the existing 120,000 MW of electricity to about 400,000 MW. Half of India does not have electricity and the investment choices you make over the next ten to fifteen years will be crucial.
You therefore have the potential to be a leapfrog economy - going straight to a model of low-carbon development without having to scrap existing infrastructure and technologies. You are already leaders in some renewable energy technologies. About 100,000 biogas plants and 16,530 solar photovoltaic lighting systems were installed during 2004-05. You are the only country to have a Ministry dedicated to the use of renewable energy - sharing experience of development and deployment of these technologies can provide global benefits. You can forge a distinctive economic path that will give you a comparative economic advantage in future. As your President has suggested in calling for a goal of Energy Independence, renewable energy technologies could contribute 20 to 25 per cent of your energy needs by 2030. You have nearly 60 million hectares of wasteland, of which 30 million hectares are available for energy plantations. With each crop lasting 50 years and being carbon-neutral, biofuels could make a significant contribution meeting future demand in transport fuels and delivering emissions reductions.
Policy and Politics
The science shows the scale and impact of the problem. The practical solutions exist to solve it, and the economics shows that this would be cost-effective. The challenge in 2007 is how to develop the policies and political agreement that can drive investment in a low-carbon economy. Every country has domestic responsibilities to reduce emissions. The UK priorities are in reducing energy demand, in particular by moving towards zero carbon homes and increasing renewable and low-carbon fuels, in electricity, heating and transport. In India, there are immense opportunities in renewable energy, biofuels and carbon capture and storage. But every country also has international responsibilities - responsibilities that are 'common but differentiated'. The greatest responsibility falls on the wealthiest countries to help with adaptation and help pay the difference between high-carbon and low carbon industrialisation. But every country must play its it part.
The UK will be demonstrating its international responsibilities in four areas:
First, by showing leadership in adopting binding legislative commitments to reduce its own emissions. We will be introducing a Climate Change Bill that will establish in legislation our goal of reducing C02 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
Second, the UK will be pushing for deep cuts across the European Union. We support a 30% cut by industrialised countries to 2020 and welcome the European Commission's proposal for a unilateral commitment to 20% cuts by 2020 - as a springboard to more ambitious action. Delivering this commitment through emissions trading, including through the use of the Clean Development Mechanism will release large scale and sustained investment in industrialising countries.
Third, technology transfer. The UK-India collaboration to identify barriers to technology transfer. It will help forge a common vision on international technology cooperation, including the role of the UNFCCC in catalysing development and commercial deployment of low carbon technology within developing countries such as India. The Clean Energy Investment Framework is a major initiative that has the potential to significantly increase public and private investment in alternative sources of energy, energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change. As indigenous coal makes up nearly half the energy used for power generation in India, the development of demonstration projects for Carbon Capture and Storage must be a critical priority.
Fourth, the UK will be focusing on helping industrialising countries adapt to the climate change already in train as a result of industrialised countries emissions. Through the Clean Energy Investment Framework, the World Bank and Regional Development Banks, we will help developing countries in adapting to climate change.
2007 will be a critical year. Over the next 12 months, we want to promote a debate about a goal for stabilising climate change and the key building blocks of a future international framework. This must be part of the agenda at the G8 + 5 meeting of Environment Ministers in Potsdam in March, the G8 + 5 Summit in Heiligendamm in June, leading to the Gleneagles Dialogue with Energy and Environment Ministers in September.
Without greater clarity on what we are trying to achieve in the long term, it is very unlikely that our short term efforts will put us on the right path. A long term goal would guide action to tackle both emissions and the impacts of climate change. It would send a signal to the private sector who have key role in delivering low carbon technologies. It would guide planning for adaptation - critical for those developing countries that suffer from the impacts of climate change most.
If we are to make progress, we must recognise that climate change is part of a wider set of goals around economic security, energy security and national security. It will require the engagement not just of environmental ministries but heads of state, prime ministers and finance ministries.
Let me finish with one stark fact. If everyone in the world were to consume natural resources and generate carbon dioxide at the rate we do in the UK, we'd need three planets to support us. We need instead to move towards a one-planet economy and one planet living - where there is balance between what we give and what we take. And we need to so quickly. Within the next two decades, global emissions must peak and begin to decline. There are difficult issues we face and must debate. But unless we find a way to forge an international framework that delivers emissions reductions, we will face colossal humanitarian and financial damage, much of which it will be felt in the poorest nations. We cannot afford to fail.
Client ref Speech by the Rt Hon David Miliband MP
GNN ref 143135PMake Good Choices then please David - sorry to bang again Rt Hon MP but where's our EEC3 targets ??!! I believe in the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid .... watch this space folks!
And you can rest assured since taking the "one Planet" test myself I have certainly altered my lifestyle.
From Your Friend The Energy Angel