Climate chief: nations must ignore 'climate saboteurs'
Published Thursday, December 3, 2009 10:40PM EST
LONDON - Britain's climate change secretary urged countries Thursday to be wary of "climate saboteurs" seeking to wreck a global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Ed Miliband, who will attend the Copenhagen talks that begin Monday on a new international climate change pact, said those challenging the mainstream scientific view on climate change are irresponsible and dangerous.
"I do think that we have to beware of the climate saboteurs, the people who want to say this is somehow in doubt, and want to cast aspersions on the whole process," Miliband told reporters. "We are not going to take the easy way out, it would be a profoundly irresponsible thing to do -- the science is clear and settled."
Some British opposition lawmakers -- including ex-Treasury chief Nigel Lawson -- insist the case for man-made climate change is overstated. In Australia, the main opposition party this week dumped its leader and withdrew its support for a greenhouse gas emissions trading system.
Skeptics have seized on recently leaked emails between climate scientists as proof that the case for man-made climate change has been exaggerated. Some messages from the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia appear to suggest that researchers may have manipulated data.
Miliband, younger brother of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, said new attempts to undermine climate science are likely linked to the Copenhagen summit.
"We are seeing a questioning of some of the science, I don't think that is incidental," Miliband said. "I think it is the case that whenever you get to a difficult political moment, a difficult set of decisions, there will be people who want to say there is an easy way out."
The minister said he had read some of the leaked East Anglia emails, but insisted sections which appear to show scientists had manipulated data, or attempted to suppress contradictory evidence, had been largely taken out of context.
"One chain of emails does not undo scientific consensus which is broadly based and relatively universal," Miliband said. "There are people who will want to jump on these emails and say this proves climate change isn't happening -- that is absolute and utter nonsense."
Aside from critics of climate change science, other figures have mounted attacks on the Copenhagen talks.
James Hansen, who heads New York's NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- and is sometimes dubbed the "godfather of global warming science" -- said in an interview published Thursday that any agreement sealed at the conference will be deeply flawed because current action to cut emissions is not radical enough.
"I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track," Hansen was quoted as telling The Guardian newspaper.
Hansen, who first warned the U.S. Senate of global warming in 1988, told the Associated Press in an email Thursday that "Copenhagen is a farce."