A new work programme to better understand how climate change will affect the British-Irish Council administrations has been agreed today. At a British-Irish Council (BIC) Environment Group meeting held today, it was agreed that climate change remains the single most important threat facing the planet.

Deputy Environment Minister Rhona Brankin said: "Scotland is already responding seriously to the threat that climate change poses through our Climate Change Programme published earlier this year but we can't do it on our own. Climate change requires a global response and we must work with other governments at a UK and international level.

"The British-Irish Council remains commited to developing a better understanding of how climate change could affect the region, including Scotland. "This will benefit Scotland's communities as improved knowledge and shared experience on the impacts of climate change will help to inform adaptation strategies in Scotland in response to the impacts of climate change."

Ministers agreed to focus effort on the following priorities: co-operation on research into extreme events, including a future workshop sharing experience on indicators of climate change and adaptation, including establishment of a working group co-operation on coastal erosion, sea-level rise and flooding issues sharing experience on the development of national adaptation frameworks The Group also considered presentations on sustainable procurement and on integrated coastal zone management.

The British Irish Council was formed in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation among the governments / administrations of UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsay. The Council meets at Head of Government level and also in sectoral groups, as did the Environment Group today. The British Government was represented by Ian Pearson MP, Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment, who chaired the meeting and David Cairns, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

The Irish Government was represented by Batt O'Keefe TD Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The States of Guernsey by Deputy Bernard Flouquet Minister, Environment Department who also hosted the meeting. The Welsh Assembly Government was represented by Carwyn Jones AM, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside. The Isle of Man was represented by John Rimington, MHK, Minister for Local Government and the Environment. Jersey by Senator Frederick Cohen, Minister for Planning and Environment.