Prescott: cutting emissions by 80% will not be enough
Warning by former minister who helped broker Kyoto Protocol
Europe's climate targets of cutting carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 may not be tough enough to get developing countries into a worldwide global warming deal, John Prescott has warned.
In an interview with The Independent, the former Deputy Prime Minister, who brokered the current climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, said a 90 per cent cut might be needed in order to secure an agreement at December's UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
Countries such as India are likely to ask rich Western countries to cut back on atmospheric CO2 still further so that developing countries can continue to expand their economies and pull more of their people out of poverty, said Mr Prescott, who has taken on an influential new role as the rapporteur on climate change for the Council of Europe.
They believe the developed world has done most to pollute the atmosphere, and so developed countries should do most to clean it up, Mr Prescott said – adding that he thought the European Union targets might have to be toughened to a 40 per cent interim cut by 2020 and a 90 per cent cut by 2050. Otherwise, he said, India, China and other developing countries would not agree to cut their own emissions in a new climate treaty.
Mr Prescott knows all about how to reach climate deals having played a central role in brokering the Kyoto agreement in December 1997 after negotiations in the Japanese city had reached deadlock. Now he is returning to a major role in climate politics; both with the Council of Europe, which is holding its own pre-Copenhagen conference in Strasbourg later this month, and in the UK. From 21 September, he will be touring English schools lecturing on the importance of the meeting, and this week he is in China giving a speech on the need for a climate deal at Xiamen University.
Mr Prescott said that the European model of future cuts – already regarded as very demanding to some developed countries – would not be tough enough to bring the developing world on board at Copenhagen, where the international community will seek to replace Kyoto with a treaty that is capable of keeping the temperature rises of global warming to below C, thought to be the maximum that society can safely endure.
"The targets we've set are not going to be accepted by the developing countries as fair," Mr Prescott said. "Europe has set a 20 per cent cut as an interim target, which will become 30 per cent if we reach a deal at Copenhagen, but the developing countries are likely to say it should be 40 per cent, and 90 per cent as the long-term target.
"The current European figures, which I take to be the template, are not enough to make an agreement with the developing world. I don't think there's any doubt about it – the rich countries have got to give more on emissions. The heart of the developing countries' argument is: 'You carry the highest burden because you're the polluter'. And India's being much more truculent about this, saying, 'Listen, you should clear it up while we get on with our development'."
Mr Prescott believes that equity has to be central to any deal – that is, the sharing out of the amount of carbon emitted globally, without causing a climate catastrophe, must be fair.
But he is aware that there are many obstacles to an agreement. Europe's proposed cuts, never mind not being tough enough for China and India, may be seen as too tough by some of the rich countries. "Securing a deal will be 10 times more difficult than Kyoto," he said. "But the climate change we're experiencing across the world has been caused by developed counties. They must now recognise that the polluter pays."
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...
£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...
£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...
£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...