Environmentalists should reconsider nuclear

07 February 2007

David Miliband, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told delegates that environmentalists will have to reconsider their position on nuclear power. He was speaking at the launch of new greenhouse gas emissions criteria for companies participating in the FTSE4Good Index.

 

In a wide-ranging speech Miliband said there would be tough choices for politicians, business and environmentalists if environmental goals were to be reached.

 

 He criticised environmentalists that pushed for punative penalties on business, ignoring the fact that people were more likely to take action to address climate change within a healthy economy.

 

He said that his aim was to get the issue of climate change out of the hands of environment ministers and into the hands fo finance ministers and prime ministers. The UK would be using the forthcoming G8 and other meetings to take forward the concept of a low carbon economy. The "power of Europe" would be used to help forge a post-2012 climate change agreement.

 

Miliband also noted that constituents wanted more and better standards of living, it was important not to fall into an antimaterialistic position in attempts to tackle climate change. As climate change moves from the margins to the mainstream it has to shed its traditional associations with anti-materialism and anti-aspirationalism. The only choice was between high carbon growth or low carbon growth.

 

FTSE4Good

The FTSE4Good Index was designed to measure the performance of companies that meet globally recognized corporate responsibility standards, and to facilitate investment in those companies.

Companies would be delisted if they fail to meet criteria.

Now introducing new greenhouse gas emissions reduction criteria.

Exclusion on companies involved in uranium mining removed in 2006.

Index now outperforming FTSE 100.

$2.5 million raised through index for UNICEF.
 

The Stern Report had dubbed climate change "the greatest market failure." To address this the market should be deepend to have carbon pricing across all the economy around the world. Miliband suggested citizens might have the option to pay for carbon offsets at the point of sale.

 

When asked whether there should be carbon taxes, Miliband pointed to the current EU emission trading scheme as an example of carbon pricing. He noted the current low price of emissions allowances but said there was only one direction that carbon prices would go in the future.

 

Miliband said there should be a British model for wealth creation that promoted a better society both in the UK and globally. The model should reflect that there is concern over unequal sharing of the benefits of globalisation and that failure to address this could lead to the return of protectionism.

 

Countries such as India faced a cruel twist, in that they had as much right to develop as the UK, but if they develop in the way the UK has, they will face the worst impacts of climate change. Nevertheless "development is non-negotiable," according to Miliband. Climate change had to be tackled alongside other social and economic aspirations.

 

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