Climate sceptics denounced by Brown as he launches climate change group

12.2.2010   (Guardian)

Gordon Brown has launched a new UN climate fundraising group, and says sceptics
go ‘against the grain’ of science

Prime minister Gordon Brown today accused climate change sceptics of going “against
the grain” of scientific evidence, as he launched a new group to raise billions
of pounds for the fight against global warming.

Mr Brown will co-chair the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing with Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi.

The group aims to raise $30bn ( £19bn) over the next three years – rising to $100bn
annually by 2020 – to help poor countries limit their contribution to global warming
and adapt to its effects.

Cash raised from state and private sources will fund measures to halt deforestation,
encourage low-carbon development and adapt to rising sea levels, extreme weather
events and higher temperatures.

Despite the failure to reach a legally-binding compact at the Copenhagen talks
in December, Mr Brown today said that he believed sufficient offers were on the
table to meet some of the conference’s key goals.

“66 countries have set out their plans or targets for climate change, covering
80% of global emissions,” he said. “Already we can say that if promises are met,
the accord will lead to a peaking of global emissions by or before 2020 and make
it possible for us to hold the trajectory of global temperature increases to 2C.”

Britain continues to support a legally-binding agreement at the UN conference
in Cancun, Mexico, later this year, he said.

The weeks following Copenhagen have seen the science behind climate change come
increasingly under attack, following the hacking of researchers’ emails and the
revelation that an inaccurate assertion about melting glaciers was included in
the influential 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But Mr Brown brushed aside the sceptics’ challenge during a UN webcast to launch
the group today.

“Those people who have become global warming deniers and those people who have become climate change deniers are against the grain of all the evidence that has been assembled that
global warming and climate change are indeed challenges that the world must meet
and that can only be met together,” he said.    He has previously denounced what
he described as “anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautioned against thinking that the cold winter
in the northern hemisphere – which is currently causing heavy snowfall in the
New York area – disproves the global warming hypothesis.

“It may be true that you have seen some cold weather, as we have seen recently
in New York, but the overall tradition of scientific evidence suggests that global
warming is happening much faster than one may realise,” said Mr Ban.

“That is what I have been told by the scientists and I believe that is true.”

Mr Brown said that the group would take on “the task that I believe is the most
important we face – combating climate change by ensuring that the poorest countries
have the finance necessary to do so”.

He added: “If we can resolve this problem then I believe many of the other challenges
of climate change can also be solved. The task before us, while daunting, is a
very important one to the future of the environment of the world.”

Mr Brown said that funds for mitigation and adaptation to climate change must
come on top of official development aid, and acknowledged that private sources
must be found for some of the money – for instance by auctioning national emissions

“This can’t all be done from taxpayer revenues so we must examine new sources of finance, both public and private,” he said.

The PM pledged that Britain would contribute, saying: “Let me stress that the
UK is committed to paying its share of the up to $30bn required by developing
countries from 2010.   We will stand by and make our commitment real to that part
of the agreement at Copenhagen.”

Asad Rehman, senior international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth,
said: “$10bn a year might sound like a wave of new money for poor countries to
tackle climate change, but in reality it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what
is required. What’s worse is that most of this money from rich countries will
be plundered from existing aid budgets.” Last month the UK government admitted that its £1.5bn contribution to the 2010-2012 funding
would be taken from its existing overseas aid budget.