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COP21: Lord Howard – Paris climate deal ‘in British interests’



Commenting ahead of the opening of the UN climate talks in Paris on Monday, which will be attended by over 130 world leaders including David Cameron, Lord Michael Howard of Lympne (pictured) said a new global deal on climate change is ‘manifestly in the interests of the British people and British business’.

“History shows that true environmental leadership comes from the political Right; we should not forget that Lady Thatcher was the first world leader to propose a United Nations convention to limit climate change, nor that Sir John Major signed that convention on behalf of Britain,” he said.

“David Cameron has, commendably, continued that tradition of stewardship, and through pledging financial support to help the poorest nations protect themselves against climate impacts he is living up to the promises that Sir John and I, as Environment Secretary, made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

“A strong agreement to limit climate change is manifestly in the interests of the British people and British business, offering protection against climate impacts and opportunities for innovative companies, and I wish the Prime Minister well as he heads to Paris for the opening of negotiations.”

Dr Camilla Toulmin, Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) highlighted the links between global poverty eradication and a positive agreement in the talks.

“Eyes will be on David Cameron to back up his commendable commitment to overseas aid with the leadership needed to secure a deal in Paris.  In the Prime Minister’s own words, ‘there can be no attack on poverty without an assault on climate change’,” she said.

“Heading to Paris Cameron faces a very different challenge from the Copenhagen climate summit which was dominated by the old divides of the developed North and developing South that have more or less evaporated.  The world has moved on and all countries now recognise it is in their interests to set a clear trajectory for a cleaner future where the majority of climate risks can be contained. This is Cameron’s chance to clear up recent uncertainties about UK commitment to a low carbon economy.”

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said that the prospects for a new global climate deal in Paris are good.

“Just six years ago I was standing in the diplomatic wreckage of the Copenhagen summit; and if anyone had told me then that governments would be making another serious attempt to secure a global agreement in 2015, I’d have directed them towards the men in white coats,” he said.

“But so much has happened in those six short years: the first evidence that global economic growth is decoupling from emissions growth, China cutting its coal consumption, the costs of clean energy falling, and growing signs of climate change impacts in the world around us.

“Finalising the agreement in Paris won’t be easy – the one safe prediction we can make is that there will be sleepless nights, tears and anger along the way – but in 2015, all of the world’s major governments see a global deal as being in their national interest, so you’d have to say the odds look pretty good.”