Gordon Brown: 'We can make the difference'

Gordon Brown is seeking an ambitious, effective and fair plan, and he asserts that it is in the best interests of everyone to warm to it
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The Independent Online

In 71 days, the international community will gather in Copenhagen to determine a new global agreement on climate change. At stake is the future of every child on this planet. There is no higher priority for me, or for this government, than forging an agreement in Copenhagen that sets the world on a path to avoiding dangerous warming – to keep the global average temperature increase to two degrees celsius.

As set out in our document The Road to Copenhagen (www.actoncopenhagen.gov.uk), we want an agreement that is ambitious, effective, and fair. Ambitious: it must set a trajectory for reducing global emissions by at least 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. Effective: it must establish a legally binding regime, and a global carbon market. And fair: it must provide developing countries with financial and technological support to help them adapt to climate change and to embark on low-carbon development paths themselves.

With UN negotiations proceeding too slowly, the UK government has been leading efforts to unblock the deal. In June, I was the first developed-country leader to table a concrete proposition for climate finance for developing countries, suggesting a working figure of £61bn ($100bn) a year from private and public sources by 2020. At the UN and G20 summits this week, I have been talking directly to other global leaders about this, and next month I will be working to agree the EU's position. And let no one be in any doubt – we can do this because of our strong engagement in Europe. No party which detaches itself from the EU mainstream can claim to be committed to acting on climate change.

And at home we are implementing a radical set of climate policies. Our Climate Change Act makes the UK the first country to put our emissions cuts into law – by 34 per cent by 2020, and by 80 per cent by 2050. And the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan we published in July (www.decc.gov.uk) is the first in the world to give every department responsibility for its own "carbon budget".

The Transition Plan represents a revolution in energy policy that will not just reduce emissions but increase our energy security and create jobs in the new green economy. Our Great British Refurb campaign will insulate every loft and cavity wall by 2015, and fit every home with a smart meter by 2020. From next year, feed-in tariffs will give cash back to households and communities installing decentralised energy. We are increasing renewable-energy production sevenfold in the next decade. We are forging ahead with a programme of new nuclear build. We will only approve new coal-fired power stations that are fitted with carbon capture and storage, with the world's largest demonstration programme for this vital new technology. And we have a £400m programme of investment in the new generation of electric vehicles.

Meeting these plans will create around 400,000 jobs in green manufacturing, low-carbon energy and environmental services over the next eight years. Through our Low Carbon Industrial Strategy and £400m investment fund, we will reap the economic benefits for Britain of the global shift to low carbon.

So we are leading the way on climate action – but we need more than just government to do this. As with Make Poverty History, we will get the agreement we need at Copenhagen only if governments can show they have public support. So I would urge as many people as possible to go to Ed Miliband's new campaign website, www.edspledge.com, and sign up their backing for an ambitious deal. Together, we can make the difference.

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is now 386 parts per million. In 1958, it stood at 315ppm. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was 280ppm