Alistair Burt MP is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Here is the full transcript of Foreign Office Minister Burt's welcome to GLOBE legislators gathered in London on 14 January for the opening session of the 1st GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit:
"Good morning and welcome to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Welcome to this conference which launches the GLOBE Climate Legislation Initiative. I’m delighted to be here to mark the launch of this ambitious work. And it’s wonderful to see delegates from so many countries here in London for this event. I am particularly pleased to welcome Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She is a great champion of the importance of climate legislation and we are grateful that she could be here today.
Thank you, Lord Deben, for inviting me open this conference and for giving me the opportunity to say a few words about the importance of national legislation in addressing dangerous climate change.
Consensus and the UK experience
As legislators, we understand the value of parties and politics. They are the life-blood of good governance and open debate. But we also understand that there are issues of long-term strategic importance for our countries and our planet. To address these, we need to work together across the political spectrum to build consensus and take action.
That’s not easy. And it’s because it’s not easy that we are particularly proud of our Climate Change Act and the statutory mechanism of Carbon Budgets that we have in the UK. These will ensure that we play our part in achieving a transformative reduction in carbon emissions to 2050 and beyond.
There’s still more for us to do. We’ve recently launched the Green Deal – which makes it easier for households to make energy-saving improvements. We’ve launched the UK’s Green Investment Bank – which will leverage private sector investment into the low-carbon economy. And we’ve just announced a major reform of our electricity market, which will ensure that we deliver on our emissions reductions commitments under the climate change act. At the same time, it will safeguard the UK’s future energy security. We are proud of these achievements.
We are also proud to have been able to support GLOBE in its recent work Mexico, China and South Korea and elsewhere. And we are proud to be supporting this new Climate Legislation Initiative because it will be crucial to building the international consensus that we need.
Across the world – even in areas which we think of as rooted in carbon dependency, like the Middle East – we see the tender shoots of action on emissions reductions and renewable technology. And COP 18 in Qatar last year acted as a catalyst for debate across that region. It’s essential that our work together, through GLOBE, acts as a stimulus for raising awareness and building a true global consensus.
The 2015 ambition
The impacts of climate change are already being felt. This is clear in the shifts we’re seeing in global weather patterns – in the increased frequencies and intensities of droughts, flooding and heatwaves in certain parts of the world, and the economic losses and human suffering that go with these events. We are clear that we need to respond with a global, comprehensive and legally-binding deal on emissions reductions, and that we have a narrow window in which to achieve this. Getting there will require effort, consensus and compromise. The clock is already ticking.
As legislators, we can to contribute to this process by seizing the opportunity to build a constructive political climate for the discussion of climate change. And we have the unique privilege of being able to enact legislation which will act as a framework for domestic and global action for years to come. It is against this backdrop of high domestic ambition that we stand the best chance of achieving a meaningful and effective agreement in 2015.
There are other prizes to be had too. Increasingly, countries are drawing a link between low carbon and high value. There are economic gains in cracking the issue of energy efficiency and developing hi-tech low carbon industry. The Confederation of British Industry reported last year that over one third of the UK’s growth in 2011-12 came from green business. And the green sector in the UK grew at 2.3% last year. This is a powerful argument – especially in these difficult economic times.
There’s a lot of work to do. Building agreement and enacting legislation by 2015 is an ambitious task. You will know better than me what the obstacles to be overcome in your countries are. But I can offer you the example of what has been achieved in the UK as a demonstration that it can be done. And I can offer you the UK’s continuing support for the work of GLOBE International and for your work at home.
On behalf of the Foreign Secretary, I would like to wish you well for these busy two days of talks. And I wish you well for your work between now and 2015. Thank you."