Sir David King Sticks to His Guns on Climate Change Threat
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Sir David King came under attack in the United States after saying global warming was a greater threat than terror earlier this year.
But Sir David, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he stands by the evaluation.
He said: “What is happening in the Indian Ocean underlines the importance of the Earth’s system to our ability to live safely.
“And what we are talking about in terms of climate change is something that is really driven by our own use of fossil fuels, so this is something we can manage.”
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet will raise sea levels by six to seven metres (up to 23ft), Sir David said. That would take time but other effects of global warming such as increased storms and flooding is already happening.
“One side of this is we need to prepare ourselves against these increased impacts,” he said.
“The other side, of course, is changing our energy industry – in other words, to move away from fossil fuels.”
Tony Blair has pledged to make action on climate change a priority during the UK’s chairmanship of the G8 group of industrialised nations, which begins tomorrow.
The Prime Minister holds out no hope of the United States, the world’s biggest polluter, signing the Kyoto Protocol limiting carbon emissions.
But Sir David said there were causes for hope in America.
Carbon emissions trading, introduced under Kyoto in February, will put pressure on those who have not signed up to take part.
“Given the strength of London as a financial centre, this new commodity, emisions trading, is going to become a major value commodity,” he said.
“That in itself is going to have some pressure on those countries not within the Kyoto Protocol to join in.
“So there is a momentum behind the Kyoto Protocol.”
Sir David also said: “I feel optimistic about the actions I see being taken in the United States.”
A Bill going through Congress is “a very positive sign in the right direction” and California is challenging Britain by committing itself to generating 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2010.
“There are all sorts of signs within the United States that the seriousness of climate change is being realised,” he added.
“I don’t want to put everything around Kyoto.”
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