Positive Environment News

Tories Could Hurt British Climate Clout: Minister

Date: 19-Jan-10
Country: SPAIN
Author: Pete Harrison

SEVILLE - Britain might lose its influence in global climate negotiations if the opposition Conservatives win upcoming elections and pull back from Europe, Environment Minister Ed Miliband warned.

Britain's opposition Conservative party is widely expected to win an election to be held before June. The party's leaders have pledged to claw back powers from the European Union if they are victorious.

But Miliband said they underestimated the importance of the EU in global climate change negotiations, which he hopes will lead to a legally binding agreement on reducing C02 emissions by the end of the year.

"It's really important for the UK to work within Europe, because that's what makes us stronger," he told Reuters ahead of a meeting of EU environment ministers in Seville, Spain.

"Inevitably, when you have a party that wants to be on the sidelines in Europe, it doesn't help the strength of our position," he added.

Britain worked closely with Brussels on climate last year, giving firm backing to a European Commission idea to channel $100 billion a year from rich to poor countries by 2020 to help them tackle climate change.

Global climate talks ended in failure at a meeting in Copenhagen in December, and ministers are trying to come up with a new strategy for 2010 in Seville.

Miliband said the weak deal agreed in Copenhagen needed to be broadened beyond the current 50 or so signatories, deepened in terms of the emissions cuts pledged, and strengthened in terms of its legal weight.

"We will be working hard to get the maximum commitment from other countries. We need to broaden the agreement to as many countries as possible."

He welcomed India and China's pledges ahead of Copenhagen to slow down their emissions growth and said he would seek ways to get their backing for a legally-binding U.N. agreement.

"We want to talk with them about how we can allay their fears that their growth and development will be constrained," he said.

(Editing by Noah Barkin)

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