Thursday, 14 January 2010

From the record - Copenhagen

Leanne Wood: Thank you for your statement Minister, and I welcome, in particular, your remarks that, regardless of the fact that no binding agreement was reached, the scientific imperative remains and that the lack of agreement should not deflect us from being as ambitious as possible.

I can see your argument for not focusing on what has not been agreed, but I am sure that you share my bitter disappointment at the eventual outcome of the Copenhagen summit. Many world leaders reacted angrily to the private agreement, which they saw as a stitch-up between the heads of countries that are among the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

The problem with the failure to reach agreement at Copenhagen is that we do not have time to lose. The climate science tells us—I know that you are well aware of this—that we must act quickly if we are to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change. Some islands are already disappearing underwater, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa are undergoing rapid desertification, forcing people to move, which risks creating conflict over access to resources.

Some world leaders are trying hard to manage these drastic changes, while others preside over a private stitch-up. I am sure that you will agree that the anger over the failure of Copenhagen is understandable and justified. One of the world leaders angered by the failure of Copenhagen is Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia. He denounced industrialised countries for pledging only £10 billion a year to help countries to meet the challenges of climate change while spending trillions to fight unnecessary wars. As a result, Evo Morales is organising an alternative climate conference in April. Would you be prepared to look at what Evo Morales has proposed for this alternative conference, and would you be open to the idea of ensuring that Wales is represented at such an event?

Finally, I have a question about the funding that has been announced to support the coffee planters in the Mbale region of Uganda. I would like assurances from you that none of the money that is to go to what sounds like a worthwhile project will be of any benefit to the Ugandan Government, which is currently in the process of trying to legislate to introduce the death penalty for people who are caught for just being gay. I am sure that that is abhorrent to all of us in the Assembly, so I would be grateful for your assurances on that matter.

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