7 september 2009

David Miliband sets out to shock on global warming

John Vidal, environment editor, Monday 7 September 2009

The spectre of a 4C warmer world, with alligators basking off the coast of Sweden, a vast desert surrounding the Mediterranean and a largely uninhabitable mainland Europe, is to be presented to European Union countries by the foreign secretary, David Miliband.

As part of a diplomatic push by Britain to persuade rich countries to put climate change at the top of their agendas, Miliband will address EU, French, Swedish and Danish foreign ministries in the next 48 hours.

He then travels to New York where he will meet foreign ministers from other rich countries next week to hammer out details of a major treaty on global warming ahead of UN talks in Thailand, which will conclude at a crucial summit in December in Copenhagen.

A Foreign Office spokesman said using powerful climate change imagery to concentrate official minds was justifiable because the worldwide geopolitical implications of profound climate change were so enormous. "The deal is too important to be allowed to fail and the consequences of not having a deal are too great to consider. We hope the foreign secretary's diplomatic push will concentrate minds and draw attention to the wider implications of climate change," said a spokesman.

Many European countries have been lukewarm about climate change, recognising it as a problem which future generations will have to address, but reluctant to commit themselves to the deep emission cuts - and perceived economic costs - that the world's leading climate scientists say will be necessary.

If no diplomatic agreement to drastically cut emissions and hold temperature increases to 2 or even 3C can be reached at Copenhagen, many climate scientists predict runaway climate change which could see temperatures rise by as much as 4C by 2100.

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