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Hague: Economic crisis provides opportunity to confront climate change

By Ed King

British Foreign Secretary William Hague

Hague says politicians should 'confront' climate change (PIC: FCO)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the current world downturn cannot be an excuse for politicians ignoring the dangers of climate change.

Speaking at a Foreign Office and British Council event called Question Time: Climate Change, Hague told a young audience their future security depended on politicians taking tough steps to deal with global warming.

“It’s important in an economic downturn, a difficult economic period not to lose our focus – of course some people may regard it as an inconvenient truth {sic} – we’ve got so many concerns in the world, and people do ask: ‘why do we need to deal with this now’,” he said.

“I think it’s important to confront and deal with this argument – it’s part of our economic growth in the future to confront this. It doesn’t help to close your mind to the challenges posed by climate change.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne will lead the UK delegation at the COP17 climate summit at the end of the month – with financing any new initiatives high on the agenda.

The source of funding for an $100 Billion Green Climate Fund has yet to be established, while the future of the Kyoto Protocol is also unclear.

Amidst the current Eurozone crisis European politicians have yet to decide on a common negotiating position – a vote on a Kyoto resolution is expected during the EU Parliament’s 15-17 November plenary session.

Before then EU leaders have to agree on a €440 Billion bailout fund to prevent the Euro from collapsing.

But Hague warned that any decision made based on the world’s current financial plight would backfire, since studies suggest tackling climate change now is cheaper than dealing with its potential consequences in the future.

“The estimates in the Stern Report were of a cost to global GDP between 5-20 per cent if it’s not tackled – whereas it will cost 1-2 per cent of GDP to actually tackle it”, he said.

“It’s very important we give a clear answer to this – future economic growth requires us to tackle this issue”

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