Notes uniquement en anglais
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed fitting that in the year of 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe, we should discuss the threat to global security posed by climate change – and I regard it as an honour to represent my committee here today with our partner the Congress once again supporting our role on the environment.
Climate change is an entirely different type of threat than that to “peace and security” and human rights, which the Council of Europe was initially established to deal with.
However, as the delegate from Greece said yesterday - climate change represents today a real threat to individual security – human rights and quality of life – and extends its negative effects globally amongst every citizen and nation on our planet.
As you are aware, the Parliamentary Assembly - like you in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities – has been working hard to address this challenge.
Indeed, we have been and remain partners in many joint actions to raise awareness of climate change and the risks and challenges it poses for governments at every level.
We have worked together in partnership because of our belief that we owe it to the people who elected us to protect their interests - our role remains to raise our voice and put pressure on governments of every persuasion to take action to guarantee a good environmental future for life on our planet.
To achieve this laudable objective today, we need a new form of “climate solidarity” signed for in Copenhagen - we need above all to make agreements which will restore our ecological base – our planet.
Fellow politicians - if the 19th century was about mass production, and 20th century about mass consumption, we should make sure that this 21st century sets its focus on the quality of people’s lives, respect for nature and sustainable development.
A move away from simply seeking profits to a one which demands of those designing production and/or delivering services to do it in a way which doesn’t harm either our environment or the quality of the lives of those within it.
Two weeks ago, in this very same hemicycle, my longstanding friend and parliamentary colleague John Prescott, passionately defended his report on climate change and the challenge it poses - in the debate he called for a “new earth deal” to be signed in Copenhagen.
His report and subsequently unanimously adopted resolution has at its centre a strong demand that any Copenhagen Agreement must have at its heart environmental equity and social justice.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let’s be honest with ourselves here today - the truth is that we are part of the 1.3 billion people in the rich developed nations whose wealth has been fuelled by high carbon growth – wealth which has left more than 5 billion people on our planet with the greater share of poverty and deprivation - many of them living on less than $2 a day.
Are there any doubters here today? How many of you have seen street children sent out by their parents to earn money rather than them going to school because of the meager amounts of money this will raise and be the difference between having food and clothing and not being hungry?
Unless we act at Copenhagen poor countries and their vulnerable citizens will continue to suffer the most – even though they have contributed least to global warming.
This is not only unfair but totally unacceptable, especially to the principles both our organizations stand for.
One might ask the question: Is this really so - aren’t we the ones who demand fresh flowers cheaply every day on our supermarket shelves?
Who explains away this unsustainable madness by arguing that it gives jobs to poor Africans or Asians who otherwise would be unemployed?
Who cleanses our guilt by way of monetary donations when we witness scenes of poverty, hunger and death caused by desertification, floods and fires which can be directly attributed to climate change?
Or, as bad – those of us who talk of carbon markets and carbon trading only as a mechanism to continue the poverty of the third world when we already know it is wrong.
In contrast, developed nations like ours must recognise their role in polluting the world and accept unhesitantly the principle that the polluters should and must pay for their actions.
Let’s look at the facts - today the US emits 20 tones of CO2 per person a year, compared to 10 tones for EU countries, 5 tones in China, 2 in India and less than 1 in some parts of Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If we are to save our planet and stabilise the process of climate change, by 2050, per capita emissions must be limited to less than 2 tones per year for all nations.
This demands a real change in our thinking – a radical change in our economies - and most of all a radical change in our ways of living.
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the Chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change and its effects, when speaking in this chamber during our last Assembly, reminded us that 2009 marked the 140th anniversary of the birth of the humanitarian Ghandi.
Indeed, he reminded us of one of his moral insights when he commented that those of us who live in the richer world must learn to live more simply – to enable others to simply live.
It is a stark message of truth. We in the Parliamentary Assembly fully recognise and support the ongoing work of local and regional authorities.
Through local action - such as Local Agendas 21, with more than 5 500 local and regional authorities acting on your advice - you already play a crucial role in bringing about this process of change.
When such a changed approach is agreed - it will be you who will be best placed to translate the words of any such global treaty into action and then achieve and maintain national objectives for deep and early cuts in emissions.
Yes it will be difficult.
Yes it will be controversial.
Yes it will require courage and leadership.
But yes, it must be done.
As we all know we have a moral obligation to pass on this planet to future generations in a better shape than we found it.
In the Parliamentary Assembly we have been engaged repeatedly over the past 12 years in calling for action on climate change and we are proud to have achieved a really important step in that direction by making a proposal to the Committee of Ministers to draft an Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which would clearly embed the right to a healthy and viable environment as a human right for all our citizens.
I have seen the amendments tabled to your fine resolution on climate change – unfortunately one of them represents what I can only describe as a flat earth approach to this important subject.
Discuss Russia – Kyoto Protocol.
Instead I urge members of your Congress to wholeheartedly support the original text relating to this matter.
But, colleagues, passing resolutions won’t, on their own, be enough – we are going to have to work hard to convince our governments to approve any new protocol – and my Assembly, as always, needs your support.
So, in conclusion, Mr President – my thanks to the Congress for its partnership and support of aims to make the road to Copenhagen a successful one.
Its recognition and willingness also to take on the role of monitor and delivery of any agreements reached to save our world from itself.
Be assured, we value you - support your efforts and believe that our partnership will continue to reap successful endeavours for the future.
And the best of luck.