As world leaders prepare to gather for the final days of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, we assesses the stances of the devolved administrations.
As world leaders prepare to gather for the final days of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, Left Foot Forward assesses the stances taken by the devolved administrations to what even Fox News has described as the “most important UN climate change conference in history”.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots, was appointed amidst rumblings that his creationist beliefs could get in the way of the performance of his job. However, with the climax of Copenhagen just days away, Poots has made clear his belief that an agreement to achieve a binding cut in global carbon emissions is “imperative”.
Poots has gone on to say:
“In the run up to the event I have emphasised the need for any deal reached to be truly global. All countries must commit to tackling the problem, otherwise economic activity will just be displaced and there will be no overall benefit to the environment.
“As with most things in life it is a question of balance. I see a good deal as one that achieves our environmental goals but without unreasonable burdens placed on commerce, the economy and citizens.”
To that end, the Minister has told BBC Radio Ulster that an agreement would be useless if the main polluters, in the form of the US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Russia are not on board with the conference conclusions.
Wales has gone into the negotiations with commitments already made to cut annual carbon emissions by 3 per cent each year from 2011, leading to a total 80 per cent reduction before 2050. The Assembly Government has also pledged to support the 10:10 campaign to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings, properties and activities by 10 per cent next year.
In a sideswipe against some on the right who have raised doubts about the science and policy on global warming, such as former Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davies and Maggie Thatcher’s Chancellor Lord Lawson, the new First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has made clear his desire for a deal:
“Despite the attempts of the sceptics and those opposed to this agenda, the world must not fail in its duty to come to a meaningful deal that will protect us all from runaway climate change. Together we must take action now if we are to have any chance of limiting the damage that climate change will cause.”
Speaking in her capacity as co-chair of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development NRG4SD, Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson has made the case for regional governments to be fully involved in discussions in Copenhagen. She concluded:
“Any new deal negotiated in the coming days in this city must recognise the roles that regional and sub-national governments such as the Welsh Assembly Government have in tackling climate change.
“It will be regional governments such as ours who will be crucial in delivering on the ground when it comes to addressing climate change. I want to see the final agreement specifically feature this and recognise our role.”
The Assembly Government has also used the opportunity of the conference to announce plans to help prepare the Mbale region of Uganda for the affects of climate change. The First Minister spoke of his delight that Wales could build on its relations with the Mbale region, going on to say:
“We will be providing Welsh expertise and knowledge to help Mbale prepare its own plans to address and adapt to climate change. For many in the developed world, climate change can seem as a far away threat, but in Mbale they are already seeing its impact on their way of life at first hand.”
One of the first projects will see work in conjunction with a Fair-trade Coffee Co-Op in Mbale to run a tree nursery. The trees will provide much needed shade for the coffee plants of some 6,000 farmers, and help absorb carbon.
Scotland has already passed legislation setting a legally binding target of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, inclusive of emissions from international aviation and shipping. What is more, Scotland has an ambitious interim target of a 42 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.
Writing in the Scotsman, First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“Scotland is a small country making a big difference on this global challenge and I’ve been pleased to see our environmental campaigners, from NGOs to churches, also ensuring the call for action is heard loud and clear in Copenhagen.
“Scotland is well on track to meet our targets of generating 31 per cent of electricity demand through renewables by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020. And I’ve been determined to drive forward the clean, green energy agenda in our discussions.
“For the future of the planet, it is vital that not only do world leaders know of Scotland’s ambitions, but that they also seize the moment and pursue them.”
The conference has led to a new partnership between Scotland and the Maldives to form a partnership and exchange technology and research to combat climate change.
In October, President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the dangers faced by his country from climate change, with predications it could be the first country to be submerged should sea levels continue to rise.
Announcing the partnership, President Nasheed said:
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“Maldives and Scotland have signed a joint statement, to develop a concrete plan of action next year aimed at co-operation on climate mitigation.
“We are inspired by Scotland’s commitment to low carbon growth. Scotland is an example for others to follow.”