The UK Government today (Tuesday) starts a series of joint Ministerial visits to key European capitals to drive forward EU action on climate change.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury John Healey and Environment and Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson will join business representatives in Berlin where they will argue that European leadership has to be at the heart of the global effort to tackle climate change.

John Healey said: "Climate change is a central economic as well as an environmental challenge. The Stern Report reinforced this message, so we will be working with economics and finance ministries, as well as environment and energy departments, across Europe to ensure that the ambitions agreed at the historic Spring Council earlier this month are fully implemented but at the lowest possible cost to all of our economies.

"These visits are evidence of the UK Government's determination to work together to use the Stern Report as the springboard for reaching the international agreements that are vital to tackling climate change." Ian Pearson said: "These visits will help build support and commitment across Europe for strong international action to tackle climate change. EU leadership will help secure an ambitious agreement from both the G8 and the formal UN climate change process so that we can avoid dangerous climate change.

"2007 is an important year in the fight against climate change. By taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the EU can make a real difference to its citizens, consumers and businesses. "Germany's EU Presidency has already delivered real progress in agreeing climate change goals, and we want to work with our German counterparts to consider how to capitalise on that."

The visits, announced by the Chancellor, follow the historic agreement made by EU heads of state earlier this month that the EU would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020. The visits will provide the opportunity to build international support for the UK Government's Vision Paper for the long-term future of emissions trading, and further debate following the Stern Report on the economics of climate change in the autumn. Earlier this month, UK businesses and environmental groups joined the debate on how emissions trading should develop by signing up to a manifesto on the future of EU emissions trading. The manifesto was coordinated by the UK Government.

Today's visit to Germany, as well as to Poland in the coming weeks, and to Portugal and Slovenia ahead of their forthcoming EU presidencies, will help encourage EU ministers to develop solutions at least-cost that will allow Europe to address climate change in a way that is consistent with continued economic growth.