Let MoD tackle climate, says Lucas

Responsibility for climate change should be transferred to the Ministry of Defence as the single most important threat facing the nation, the Green MP Caroline Lucas said yesterday. Only if global warming is classified as an issue of "national survival", like a military threat, will it be treated with the urgency it now needs, she told the Sustainable Planet conference in Lyon.

Ms Lucas insisted that she was making an important political point. In wartime, politicians and generals did not sit around "consulting focus groups and special interests" before deciding how to respond to a military invasion, she said.

The biggest problem for Greens was convincing governments and the public that climate change was not just a problem for the future, but a growing and immediate threat.

Ms Lucas called for a new and healthy form of "protectionism" to prevent the "ideology" of free trade from harming the developing world and environmental standards in the developed world.

She criticised the EU's likely position at the Cancun climate conference, which begins on 29 November – a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, 30 per cent if others agree – as "not anything like enough", adding that all the evidence now suggested the world had to "accelerate" reductions.

Chantal Jouanno, the French Environment Minister, warned that failure at Cancun might "push the environment off the agenda for years". Both politicians called for curbs on consumption-boosting advertising.