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Government to champion environment at EU

Government to champion environment at EU
LONDON - Britain will take the vanguard in tackling greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development which is crucial to world peace, Environment Minister Margaret Beckett says. She said Britain would use its presidencies in 2005 of the European Union and the Group of Eight industrialised nations as the platform for its big push on the environment. \"First and foremost, our priority must be international action on tackling climate change,\" she told the 500 delegates at the Environment 2003 meeting in west London. \"If we do not reverse current trends in global warming emissions, 90 million more people are likely to be affected by flooding alone every year by the end of this century, mostly in developing countries,\" she added. Beckett said Britain and other nations were trying to persuade Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change as developing countries were showing signs of impatience. The Kyoto Protocol needs Russian ratification to come into force now that the United States has pulled out of the pact which aims to limit emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming. Beckett said natural justice demanded that environmental plundering had to cease because it hit the poor the hardest. \"Sustainable development is essential to long term peace and security. The idea that a rich world and a poor world can co-exist without dramatic implications is untenable,\" she said. \"We must with equal vigour address the underlying causes of conflict and instability - poverty and environmental degradation.\" Beckett said 1.1 billion people worldwide had no safe drinking water and 2.4 billion had no sanitation. Land was being lost to erosion and pollution at an alarming rate, the seas were being poisoned and chronically overfished. \"We need to do far more to meet these challenges - to make development sustainable,\" she said. Tony Juniper, director of global environment pressure group Friends of the Earth, said the challenges were vast, and lack of action unthinkable. \"We expect that in the next decades we will experience a scale of species loss not seen since the era of the dinosaurs,\" he told the meeting. Story by Jeremy Lovell REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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