Letter to Margaret Beckett regarding the climate negotiations in Montreal

SGR letter to Margaret Beckett (Environment Minister) arguing for the UK to take a strong position at the upcoming climate negotiations in Montreal, 28 October 2005

Dear Mrs Beckett

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

As we approach the next round of negotiations under the UN FCCC, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) – a UK organisation representing over 800 science, design and technology professionals – would like to express our continuing deep concern for the issue of climate change and urge you to push for strong action at this forum.

As we are sure you will be aware, scientific evidence that climate change is happening continues to accumulate, not least the recent measurements showing the Arctic ice cap is currently at its smallest for at least a century. Indeed, the possibility is very real that the global increase in the number of severe hurricanes, such as Katrina, observed over the past few decades is connected to climate change. With the probability that continuing the current trends of greenhouse gas emissions could lead to dangerous and irreversible climate change within a couple of decades, the need to kick-start international action is urgent.

While technology will be an important part of the solution, we do not believe that recent attempts to focus exclusively on this area (for example, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate) stand any major chance of success. A framework involving technology together with social, political and economic change – importantly with quantifiable targets – is in our opinion the only way forward. This is why we support the well-known concept of “Contraction and Convergence” (C&C) as proposed by the Global Commons Institute as the basis for an agreement which is both effective and fair. It would satisfy both developing countries’ demands for equity and US demands that major developing countries such as China and India be involved in any targets.

Of course, for the UK to be credible in promoting a C&C framework both at this round of negotiations and in future years, we must put more effort into achieving not only our Kyoto target, but also our unilateral target of a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions. We believe that much more action is needed. For example, we need more forceful implementation of energy efficiency policies and greater support for renewable energy sources. Of particular importance is the need for radical changes to current government policies on road transport and aviation, which are completely unsustainable. The rise in oil and gas prices should give a favourable background for such measures.

We foresee some difficult negotiations at this Conference of the Parties but we hope that you will be able to ensure that concrete progress is made towards a framework which is fair and effective in reducing the major threat of climate change.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Stuart Parkinson
Director, SGR