Lord Prescott's speech


Lord Prescott, is former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Vice President of GLOBE UK.

Here is the full transcript of Lord Prescott's speech to GLOBE legislators gathered in London on 14 January for the opening session of the 1st GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit:

Thank you very much Lord Deben. I want to comment based on my experience of the UN negotiations.

Christiana – that was a brilliant speech, and I think everyone of us enjoyed it. It is very unusual for a passionate voice from the UN.

What you did was give us a challenge; you gave us the challenge to double the numbers again. We did it before and let me tell you we’re going to do it again.

I want to say a few words about the process, having been involved in Kyoto in 1997. As the deputy Prime Minister I became the lead negotiator for the EU. I learnt a lot from that, I went to all the conferences of the parties. But Copenhagen clearly indicated a difference between developed and developing countries that couldn’t be brought together into a consensus. I think what it highlighted was the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. When the American negotiator stood up and said, ‘well look, we emit greenhouse gases and so does China, therefore it is a mathematical question’, I have to say no, it is not a mathematical question because per capita is an issue between developing and developed countries if we are to have equity. So we have a lot to do in the negotiations and fundamentally the rich countries must recognise that they have more to do, and the developing countries must recognise they are part of it, not leaving it just to the industrial countries, as we did at Kyoto. We must find a consensus agreement involving us all. So, I just want to say one or two words about that. Now, whilst I was the Deputy Prime Minister, I was proud that we produced a policy that is continued by this government. We achieved our Kyoto targets and were able to achieve the policies that we wanted and we are leading the world, work that is being continued very much by John and GLOBE. I have only recently become a member of GLOBE. I was on the side as a minister, listening to what they were saying, but I am proud to be here because the work that has been done by GLOBE is fundamental in the way that you suggested Christiana. You can’t have an International global agreement without getting the national and local agreements. I am glad you put an emphasis on local because even nationally you can’t win without getting the local agreements you talk about. It is absolutely crucial.

I go to India in two weeks’ time to talk with Pachauri and to launch his campaign where he’s trying to light 1 million homes in rural India by replacing the oil lamps with solar. So it becomes a local issue for the people - they realize that tackling climate change is something of benefit to them. It’s not about pain. It’s not about saying we’ve got to do this because we will feel good about it in developed countries. No, the green economy is about positive benefits for us all.

I produced a document for Copenhagen, as the Councillor of Europe - I am now the Rapporteur of the council of Europe - which was called “Stop The Clock”. I was arguing then, ‘you will not get an agreement by 2012’ and those that want to finish Kyoto should recognise that in fact if you go along this road they will use it as an excuse. America did it, under Bush, I’m not sure what Obama is doing, it is not clear what he is doing, hopefully he will come on aboard, but, do bear in mind that in Kyoto we went ahead without the Americans. They cannot be allowed a veto. This isn’t anti-America - it’s the same for any big country - we need a global consensus and we certainly need America, but they can’t tell us they aren’t going to cooperate. That’s what Kyoto showed. Kyoto 2 will be up against the same issues. So, to that extent, it’s important how you change the attitudes and the feelings that John referred to. That’s crucial. And Christiana said the same thing. I want to say to Christiana there are some ways by which we can achieve a new deal. First of all, the principles that are needed, we have to work them out internationally. The UN is not necessarily the best process of getting it. Secondly, it’s always governments that agree international agreements and they’re subjected to all the pressures in the world, from commercial interest etc. We found that at Kyoto - the coal, the high carbon industries, the steel industry, all advocated that we can’t go along this road. Some might have gone along and found it very profitable. We have got to get that framework right, the principles in the UN, common but differential responsibility based on equity. It is as much about tackling poverty as it is about prosperity, for all the generations that you talked about Christiana. So yes, get those principles right. They have to be settled at the UN, consensus of this scale of a common solution to a common problem has got to be at the UN level. But, how do we create the pressure? How do ministers feel the pressure at home? The science has been proven, the issues that John talked about, now in Australia, now in India and everywhere, the obvious strength in the arguments that are winning through. But what’ve we got to do is get people to realize that local measures are connected to climate change and it is an improvement for them, and, there are many ways in doing it. There are a lot of arguments. I won’t go into wind power in the UK; there are difficulties in all our countries. But that means there are different roads to the same solution. That is what is important, that is what GLOBE does - it shows you can do it in a different way, as long as you are embarking on a path to tackle the contributing factors to climate change.

I want to conclude by saying to you Christiana, I think we can meet your 60 target and let me suggest we have already partly done it. I’m a Rapporteur in the council of Europe, which is 43 countries. If you take the IPU, which is made up of legislators, and you add the 43 in the council of Europe and you put them together, every continent is then represented. GLOBE was good enough to develop a joint resolution at Durban. We could get legislators linking with other international legislators in other bodies. I would like to propose to GLOBE, to join with us in the Council of Europe because, at the end of the day, whilst we work it locally and we work it internationally, it’ll be decided globally. Whether it’s America, whether it’s Asia or whether it’s China or in fact Europe, Europe has a great chance. I have to say this, as someone who voted against the Common Market, even led a campaign against it, I have to say this - we would not have got a Kyoto agreement without the European Union sticking together and being a powerful negotiating block and that is what the world is about today - it’s about the continental negotiations.

So GLOBE is to the fore, GLOBE has grown faster than I ever thought it would. I am very proud to be involved in it now. If we put those other international bodies together, have common resolutions about the different roads to achieve our goals, we will increase the political pressure at the national level and at the local level. At the end of the day, we will strengthen the desire to get an agreement in the UN, which is where it must lie. Christiana, you were absolutely right about that, GLOBE is uniquely placed to be able to achieve that. So let’s recommit ourselves to doing that, to getting these achievements and agreements. After all, it is the seventh generation of children that actually Christiana was talking about, and I want to be identified with GLOBE as showing the way forward. Congratulations to John. I didn’t build GLOBE, I moaned about it when they first showed up as a minister. I thought “who the bloody hell are they?”

I have now seen their work and their role and I wish them well and I also wish you well, Christiana. It was a real inspiration to have heard you today. If you’re up there shouting about it, we have got to make sure we shout about it from down here and bring it together in the 3 years you talk about. Thank you.