Brown warns of climate change catastrophe

19.10.2009   (Independent)

By Emily Beament, Press Association

Gordon Brown warned today of a “catastrophe” for the planet if action to tackle
climate change is not agreed at forthcoming UN talks on global warming.


Speaking to representatives of 17 countries at the Major Economies Forum, convened as part of efforts to secure a deal at the UN Summit in Copenhagen
in December, the Prime Minister warned of the economic, human and ecological impact
of a failure to cut the emissions driving up temperatures.

The costs of failing to address global warming would be greater than the impact
of the two world wars and the Great Depression, he said. He told the forum, gathered
in London for the second day of talks, that he believes a deal in Copenhagen is

But with fewer than 50 days to go before the UN talks, he warned them that countries
were not making progress quickly enough to reach agreement.

He called on world leaders to work together directly to achieve a deal which
sets out binding targets for rich countries to cut their emissions, action by
developing nations and finance to help the poorest countries cope with the impact
of climate change.

“We can’t afford to fail. If we fail, we pay a heavy price,” he warned.

“For the planet, there is no plan B.”

link to article


see also


‘We can’t compromise with Earth’: PM urges action on climate change

(Independent – 19.10.2009)

World leaders must break the impasse over faltering climate-change negotiations
as preparations intensify for the UN meeting in Copenhagen this December, Gordon
Brown will urge today.

Copenhagen could change the course of history, but negotiations over a new climate-change
agreement have stalled with the risk of catastrophic global warming this century,
the Prime Minister will say in an address to the Major Economies Forum (MEF) in

“We must frankly face the plain fact that our negotiators are not getting to
agreement quickly enough,” he intends to say.   “So I believe that leaders must
engage directly to break the impasse. We cannot compromise with the Earth.   We cannot compromise with the catastrophe of unchecked climate change; so we
must compromise with one another
.  I urge my fellow leaders to work together to reach agreement amongst us, recognising
… the dire consequences of failure.”

Mr Brown believes it is vital that the world agrees on the strict control of
greenhouse-gas emissions and on the movement to a low-carbon global economy at
the forthcoming meeting in Copenhagen.   He points out that there are now only
50 days left to set the agenda for the next 50 years.   “If we do not reach a deal
at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions
growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can
undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late,” he will tell the
MEF, a high-level talking-shop on climate change.

“This is a test of our ability to work together as nations facing common challenges
in the new global era. We have shown this year in our approach to the global economic
crisis how co-operation from all can benefit each. Now we must apply the same
resolve and urgency to the climate crisis also facing us,” Mr Brown will say.

“We cannot afford to fail. If we act now; if we act together; if we act with
vision and resolve, success at Copenhagen is still within our reach.   But if we
falter, the Earth itself will be at risk.  This is the moment.  Now is the time.  
For the planet there is no ‘Plan B’.”    

A new analysis shows that the world must begin a low-carbon industrial revolution
by 2014 at the latest,
or runaway climate change will become almost inevitable.   The report, from the
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), sets out a timetable outlining the action required by industry to limit the
world’s carbon emissions, and keep global temperature rise to beneath the danger
level of C.

The analysis, by Climate Risk, a leading consultancy, suggests that, beyond 2014, the upper limits of industrial
growth rates will make it impossible for market economies to lower emissions enough
to limit the worst impacts of global warming.   “Clean industry sectors can only
expand so far, so quickly,” said Keith Allott, the head of climate change at the
WWF-UK.    “If we wait until later than 2014 to begin aggressively tackling the
problem, we will have left it too late to ensure all the low-carbon solutions
required are ready to roll out at the scale needed, if we intend to keep within
the world’s remaining carbon budget.”

The report’s release was timed to coincide with the London meeting of the MEF,
which was started by US President Barack Obama this year and is intended to smooth
the progress towards the climate conference.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, is hosting the meeting,
which involves environment and energy ministers from the largest economies in
both the developed and developing worlds, from the US and the UK on the one hand
to China and India on the other. The ministers will be discussing some of the
sticking points which emerged in the last session of pre-Copenhagen negotiations
in Bangkok 10 days ago. The talks on a new climate treaty, which would limit carbon
emissions from all countries, resume in Barcelona in two weeks.

“With the MEF forum in London, this report is a compelling reminder of the scale
of effort and the speed of action needed if we’re going to make the global transition
towards low- and zero-carbon economies before it’s too late,” Mr Allott said.  
The report says this transition requires simultaneous action on greenhouse gas
emissions from all sectors. It warns that too much reliance on market mechanisms,
such as carbon trading, would create serious problems, as these approaches can
encourage a step by step deployment of low-carbon solutions.

Instead, the report calls for strong long-term investment frameworks to support
emerging technologies, backed up by policies ranging from energy efficiency standards
to feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, and an end to subsidies for the use of
dirty-fossil fuels.

link to article

The WWF report:


Climate Solutions 2: Low-Carbon Re-Industrialisation

A report to WWF International based on the Climate Risk Industry Sector Technology
Allocation (CRISTAL) Model

This report models the ability of low-carbon industries to grow and transform
within a market economy. It finds that runaway climate change is almost inevitable
without specific action to implement low-carbon re-industrialisation over the
next five years. The point of no return is estimated to be 2014.

Executive Summary here


Download (PDF 7.72 MB)

WWF’s press releases are at