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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:17 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:17 pm, 8th February 2005

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Of course, I understand the anxiety expressed by the Father of the House, my hon. Friend Mr. Dalyell. No one is talking about stifling debate, but there is no harm in giving a proper weighting and relevance to the different contributions to that debate, and I share the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman and his colleague the hon. Member for Lewes that, unfortunately, that still does not seem to be happening in many parts of the media, which give entirely disproportionate space, time and coverage to those whose views are neither widely shared nor widely respected.

The international community has taken an unprecedented and significant step. It is particularly significant in this context because it is clear that the whole international community has accepted the science of climate change and thereby agreed to the Kyoto protocol, whose entry into force we will celebrate next Wednesday. But the Kyoto protocol is just a first tiny step towards tackling climate change. There is little doubt that the uncertainty of the past year or so about when and—indeed, at some stages—whether it would come into force had led to a loss of momentum in international discussions on climate change, and we urgently need to renew that momentum. That is why the Prime Minister put climate change, with Africa, at the top of the international political agenda this year.