The Bigger Picture: The City in the Global Village


David Miliband's Speech to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, 22-1-07

Policy and Politics

The science shows the scale and impact of the problem. The practical solutions exist to solve it, and the economics shows that this would be cost-effective. The challenge in 2007 is how to develop the policies and political agreement that can drive investment in a low-carbon economy. Every country has domestic responsibilities to reduce emissions. The UK priorities are in reducing energy demand, in particular by moving towards zero carbon homes and increasing renewable and low-carbon fuels, in electricity, heating and transport. In India, there are immense opportunities in renewable energy, biofuels and carbon capture and storage. But every country also has international responsibilities - responsibilities that are 'common but differentiated'. The greatest responsibility falls on the wealthiest countries to help with adaptation and help pay the difference between high-carbon and low carbon industrialisation. But every country must play its it part. The UK will be demonstrating its international responsibilities in four areas:

First, by showing leadership in adopting binding legislative commitments to reduce its own emissions. We will be introducing a Climate Change Bill that will establish in legislation our goal of reducing C02 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Second, the UK will be pushing for deep cuts across the European Union. We support a 30% cut by industrialised countries to 2020 and welcome the European Commission's proposal for a unilateral commitment to 20% cuts by 2020 - as a springboard to more ambitious action. Delivering this commitment through emissions trading, including through the use of the Clean Development Mechanism will release large scale and sustained investment in industrialising countries.

Third, technology transfer. The UK-India collaboration to identify barriers to technology transfer. It will help forge a common vision on international technology cooperation, including the role of the UNFCCC in catalysing development and commercial deployment of low carbon technology within developing countries such as India. The Clean Energy Investment Framework is a major initiative that has the potential to significantly increase public and private investment in alternative sources of energy, energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change. As indigenous coal makes up nearly half the energy used for power generation in India, the development of demonstration projects for Carbon Capture and Storage must be a critical priority.

Fourth, the UK will be focusing on helping industrialising countries adapt to the climate change already in train as a result of industrialised countries emissions. Through the Clean Energy Investment Framework, the World Bank and Regional Development Banks, we will help developing countries in adapting to climate change.

2007 will be a critical year. Over the next 12 months, we want to promote a debate about a goal for stabilising climate change and the key building blocks of a future international framework. This must be part of the agenda at the G8 + 5 meeting of Environment Ministers in Potsdam in March, the G8 + 5 Summit in Heiligendamm in June, leading to the Gleneagles Dialogue with Energy and Environment Ministers in September.

Without greater clarity on what we are trying to achieve in the long term, it is very unlikely that our short term efforts will put us on the right path. A long term goal would guide action to tackle both emissions and the impacts of climate change. It would send a signal to the private sector who have a key role in delivering low carbon technologies. It would guide planning for adaptation - critical for those developing countries that suffer from the impacts of climate change most. If we are to make progress, we must recognise that climate change is part of a wider set of goals around economic security, energy security and national security. It will require the engagement not just of environmental ministries but heads of state, prime ministers and finance ministries.


Let me finish with one stark fact. If everyone in the world were to consume natural resources and generate carbon dioxide at the rate we do in the UK, we'd need three planets to support us.  We need instead to move towards a one-planet economy and one planet living - where there is balance between what we give and what we take. And we need to so quickly.  Within the next two decades, global emissions must peak and begin to decline.  There are difficult issues we face and must debate. But unless we find a way to forge an international framework that delivers emissions reductions, we will face colossal humanitarian and financial damage, much of which will be felt in the poorest nations. We cannot afford to fail.