On the eve of a ground-breaking report into the impacts of climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has declared that Britain must spearhead the worldwide battle against global warming.
Climate change is “hugely threatening” to life both in the UK and globally, Mr Davey told The Observer, saying that not to lead the fight against it would be “deeply irresponsible”.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams also spoke of his fears for the global climate, saying the winter flooding was a portent of what is to come in the future.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he blamed the lifestyle of Western countries for climate change, which he said is “pushing the environment towards crisis”.
He said the floods in Britain and similar weather-related catastrophes around the world were the clearest indications yet that predictions of “accelerated warming of the Earth” caused by the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels... are coming true”.
Their comments come as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepared to release a major report that is expected to warn of catastrophic consequences to food supplies, livelihoods, health and security across the world if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked.
Leaked versions of the report, published in Japan today, warn that rising global temperatures, droughts and heat waves will threaten food supplies and human health, while hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding.
Climate change will cause economic losses, exacerbate poverty and increase migration and risks from violent conflict as well as causing damage to wildlife and habitats, the study by experts from around the world is expected to warn. In Europe, heat waves, droughts and heavy rainstorms will increase and there will be a greater risk of coastal and river flooding, while heat-related deaths will also increase.
Mr Davey, whose portfolio also involves responsibility for climate change, said more people should be worried about the issue than ever.
The Lib Dem MP told The Observer: “Climate change is hugely threatening to our way of life, in the UK, Europe and the world. Not to lead is deeply irresponsible. If you don’t lead, you will not bring others with you.”
Mr Davey was adamant that climate change sceptics in the Government had been defeated, saying: “Those of us who care about climate change and believe it is something we need to lead on have won the argument internally.”
He added that Britain had agreed to slash emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 as part of a global deal.
Dr Williams, who stepped down as leader of the Anglican Church just over a year ago, said today’s report puts “our local problems into a deeply disturbing global context”.
Writing in his capacity as chairman of Christian Aid, he said: “Our actions have had consequences that are deeply threatening for many of the poorest communities in the world.
“Rich, industrialised countries, including our own, have unquestionably contributed most to atmospheric pollution. Both our present lifestyle and the industrial history of how we created such possibilities for ourselves have to bear the responsibility for pushing the environment in which we live towards crisis.”