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Brown urges global green solution

01.01.70

Protecting the environment can boost rather than hinder economic growth, Chancellor Gordon Brown is saying.
In a speech to the United Nations in New York on Thursday, Mr Brown will call for a global response to the problem of climate change.

The chancellor denied being rattled by Tory leader David Cameron's recent emphasis on green issues.

Mr Cameron is set to visit northern Norway to study the effects of global warming on glaciers.

'Optimistic'

During his US trip, Mr Brown is expected to discuss oil at a G8 meeting in Washington.

But his first task is his speech on the "global challenge of environmental change".

In an interview with BBC News, he said: "The difficulty is if we don't deal with the environment it will have adverse effects on climate and then on the economy and our ability to grow.

"The good thing, however, is that I'm more optimistic than ever that we can built an international consensus."

He said countries were increasingly recognising the need to act on high oil prices by moving to a more diverse range of energy supplies.

And there were huge opportunities to use new science and technology to meet energy needs in an environmentally friendly way.

Consensus hopes

Mr Brown said he thought countries like America, China and India could be signed up to such moves.

This weekend he will also propose a new World Bank project to encourage developing countries to use alternative sources of energy or use existing sources more efficiently.

He said: "I think companies and governments are now prepared to act in a way they have not been prepared to act before...

"Most of all I think there is now a shared understanding of the problem and a growing sense that we have got to build a shared consensus about how we solve it."

The Tory leader has been trying to highlight his party's green credentials but the chancellor denied he was rattled and trying to hit back with a "Brown is green" message.

"The big issue on the environment is whether politicians can move beyond words to talking about substantive policies that are necessary," he said.

Norway trip

The government had taken action through the climate change levy and the Tories must propose an alternative if they wanted to scrap it - something they say they will do.

Mr Cameron cycles into work and is installing a wind turbine into his home while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell is giving up his Jaguar car.

But Mr Brown was reluctant to give details of his personal contribution to the environment, aside from saying he is swapping his official car for a greener model.

He said there had to a mixture of individual responsibility and community action.

The Tory leader is joining leaders from the World Wildlife Fund in his trip to Norway.

The highlight of his trip will be a dog sled ride to a melting glacier on the remote Norwegian island of Svalbard. Mr Cameron says he wants to see first hand the effects of climate change.

But some are saying he would be better off knocking on doors in the lead up to the local elections.

Other political parties have criticised his trip for being just a photo opportunity.

Mr Cameron will announce a green energy summit for later this year so Conservative councils can learn from Norway.

The Liberal Democrats have accused Mr Cameron of "posturing" over the environment and say the government have done nothing on issues like aviation emissions.

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group