UK's leadership on climate change at risk, says Gore

22nd September 2015

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Fossil fuels


Christopher Knight

Former US vice-president Al Gore says the UK government must live up to its legacy on climate change or risk losing its reputation as a world leader.

In a keynote address to the CBI climate change conference today, Gore said "friends around the world" admire the UK's historic role, but that its leadership position was now at risk because of the government's policy shift on global warming and climate change.

"When the UK has offered leadership the world has listened," he said, citing the industrial revolution and the UK's leadership during world war two, as examples. "But now, as a friend of the UK, I am puzzled." He then listed some of the 23 major renewables projects and energy efficiency programmes the government has cancelled since taking office.

Gore's address was, for the most part, about the global response to climate change. He described fossil fuels as a "subprime assets" and condemned global subsidies for coal and oil that are 44 times greater than investment in clean energy. "Just 0.002% of global GDP is invested in clean energy research and development," he said.

In his speech, CBI director-general John Cridland highlighted the benefits to the UK economy from the emerging green industry sector. He said the sector's annual sales had reached more than £120 billlion and that growth rates were 7% a year. "Business must be - and wants to be - part of the solution to tackling the global challenge of climate change," he declared.

Commenting on the forthcoming Paris climate summit (COP21), Cridland said he believed global leaders were now more likely to reach an agreement than at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, but added his concern over the UK government's lack of leadership on energy policies. "Seeming to row back from climate leadership risks UK's international status," he warned.

Looking ahead to Paris, Gore said a global deal on climate change would be good for wildlife, good for the economy and would help end poverty.


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