'Global warming is as big a threat to the world as terrorism'

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Two-thirds of MPs think global warming is at least as big a threat to the world as terrorism, shows a survey that displays cross-party concern about Government priorities.

Two-thirds of MPs think global warming is at least as big a threat to the world as terrorism, shows a survey that displays cross-party concern about Government priorities.

New urgency was given to the debate about action on climate change by Professor James Lovelock's call in The Independent for a massive expansion of nuclear power in order to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The survey, by the research-led consulting practice BPRI, found MPs were concerned that while terrorism does not affect everyone, global warming and associated climate change would have devastating long-term consequences. Professor Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, has repeatedly warned of the greater urgency required in tackling global warming.

Norman Baker, the environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the Government had its priorities wrong over the two subjects. "Tony Blair says he accepts David King's view on this, yet he doesn't spend any time talking about it," he said. "We hear a lot about terrorism in every Prime Minister's question time and every time he talks, but how often do you hear him speaking about climate change? He's done that once this year in a 10-minute speech launching one initiative. They have the rhetoric but they fail to follow through." Many of the MPs surveyed expressed disquiet at the lack of importance given to the environment, especially compared with the focus and expenditure on Iraq.

"If we do not tackle global warming we will all suffer," one Labour MP said. Another added: "Terrorism is a priority for all governments. But I suspect the threat to the environment is the longer-term danger. Yet little priority is being given to addressing the environmental problems that will loom large in the latter part of the century."

A quarter of MPs felt that the threat from terrorism was equal to that to the environment, while 36 per cent felt it was greater, the BPRI survey of 100 backbench MPs showed.

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