Stop Pandering to the Americans
Michael Meacher MP (Lab)
Former Environment Minister, speaking to 10000 demonstrators outside the US embassy in London. International Climate Change Day, 3rd December 2005.
If you look behind you there are hundreds more people coming into the square, and there are going to be thousands of people here today.
Everyone is highlighting the fact that this is the greatest threat facing our planet. Climate change is speeding up and is rapidly reaching the point where many scientists think that it will be irreversible. The Siberian permafrosts are beginning to melt, the arctic ice sheet is beginning to break up, the Amazon rain-forest is beginning to show early signs of die back.
And I have to say this to President Bush, if he thinks Hurricane Katrina was bad, there are a lot worse hurricanes on the way if he doesn’t change his policy.
And that is why we are all here today to demand on international climate change day, much tougher action, both at home from the United Kingdom, but also internationally.
Demand number one; to our negotiators in Montreal all next week: that any successor agreement to Kyoto stage 1 after 2010, has got to include clear targets; it’s got to have mechanisms, it’s got to have time-scales: otherwise it is not worth the paper it is written on.
Now I am well aware that there are some people, and I am not just thinking of President Bush, who say all we have to do to defeat climate change is business as usual, plus better technology and a bit more R&D. Well, let me say to them: that is utterly, utterly wrong! And that is why we should stop Kow-Towing to the Americans. (wild applause). Whatever concessions we make to the Bush administration to get them on-side, we will never get anything in return. Just as we never got anything in return for all of our support over Iraq. The Bush administration has no intention of signing up to any meaningful agreement. And we should stop pandering to the Americans. (wild applause). That is demand number one.
Demand number two: Kyoto was a good start. 8% cuts in CO2 by 2010, but what the scientists tell us is necessary is a 60% cut by 2050 if we are going to slop global warming. So I say to our negotiators, you have got to aim for a reduction in climate change emissions of 25% by 2025. That is the minimum to be on our way towards what the scientists say is necessary. (shouts from the crowd “not enough!”). Now I know that is going to be difficult, but let’s face it, climate change doesn’t hang about waiting for politicians to come to an agreement. Governments aren’t in the driving seat: climate change is! And we should aim, not for what happens to be convenient to governments, but what avoidance of climate change disaster makes absolutely necessary. 25% cuts that is the bargain.
Demand number three: bring air-travel back into – I shouldn’t say back into, because it has never been in it. Bring Air travel into the Kyoto agreement. It was the Americans who said that air travel should be excluded, (applause) Air travel is the single fastest rising cause of greenhouse gas emission. Governments cannot say, as some are, that they are going to make a priority of dealing with climate change, but at the same time we are going to sanction a 5 fold increase of air travel over the next 30 years, it just doesn’t add up. What we have got to do is bring in a “cap and trade” system, and force the airline companies to cut their emissions, year on year, exactly like all other industries. (applause)
Demand number four. If the only way to stop climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels; and it is. Then we ought to be doing far, far more to develop renewable sources of energy. That is the right answer, and not going down the nuclear route. (wild applause) Nuclear has created ten thousand tonnes of undisposable, highly toxic nuclear waste. Nuclear has produced an obvious major terrorism risk. Nuclear always has cancer and leukaemia clusters around every power station. And I say this, the risk of catastrophic accidents, however small it may be, can never entirely be ruled out. We need nuclear like a hole in the head. (wild applause). We have more wind power capacity around these islands of ours, off shore, than the whole of the rest of the continent put together. And it is about time that we used those resources to the full. Renewables are the answer (applause).
Using – and I say this deliberately in front of the US embassy – using military force to corner the world’s remaining sources of oil, in the Middle East, the Caspian and elsewhere, is just about the worst possible policy, on every single count. (wild applause). They have created a humanitarian disaster in Iraq – it will lead to more wars and what the world wants is more peace – and it will create a global warming turbo.
We all know, the whole world knows, there is a better way, and that is what we are demanding today.
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