Lord Greg Barker: Tackling climate change is "the prudent, conservative thing to do”

Ilario D'Amato
14 September 2015

Rt Hon Greg Barker, Former UK Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change

LONDON: Acting to tackle climate change is “the prudent conservative thing to do; we should be driven not by left-wing rhetoric or by hyperbole but by a sensible, cautious, prudent response to what the science is telling us,” says the Rt Hon Lord Greg Barker, former UK Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, in our latest exclusive Climate TV interview released ahead of Climate Week NYC.

“There is a strong business case for listening carefully to the science and then putting in place a plan that is pro-business, pro-enterprise, pro-innovation,” he adds. “As Lord Stern and other economic analytics tells us, actually it is far more effective to make smaller investments now than wait until it becomes irreversible, and have to adapt at greater expense later.”

Lord Barker, member of The Climate Group board and who was last month appointed to the House of Lords, is also a veteran of international climate negotiations. Sharing his thoughts on the upcoming COP21 talks in Paris, he says that a global climate deal must “leave us with a clear route map towards global decarbonization and a much more sustainable global economy.

“This time around we are more likely to see something that emerges that is a framework, perhaps, rather than a treaty in a conventional sense. We need major economies to sign up to radical decarbonization, which in the long-term is in their own economic interest, and nevertheless does require political will.”

However, the burden of a fair agreement is not just on the shoulders of the world’s governments: “I think business is genuinely playing a much stronger role in being part of the solution,” he says. “The amazing transformation that you’ve seen means that business is getting on in delivering a low carbon economy, regardless of what government is doing.”

While a fair deal in Paris is not only possible, but necessary, Lord Barker says there are still a number of hurdles to pass in our path to a more sustainable world: “The key thing is to ensure that the middle ground – particularly of developing countries – are on the side of the progressives."

Considering another major hurdle, climate finance, he asserts: “We need to make sure that everything that can be privately financed is, so that we can focus substantial public funding on particular [climate] adaptation areas and in the poorer countries.”

Nevertheless, there are many reasons to be optimistic according to the climate expert. The business case for climate action “is something that I don’t only believe, it is something that I’m seeing,” says Lord Barker. “It’s very surprising to find successful businesses that aren’t blind to the opportunities of the low carbon economy, because it represents genuine, real growth.”

Tackling climate change means being conservative “in the best sense of the word,” he concludes. “There is a strong business case for listening carefully to the science and then putting in place a plan that is pro-business, pro-enterprise, pro-innovation.”


The Climate Group's digital countdown to Climate Week NYC 2015 runs from September 1-20.

Each day we are releasing exclusive conversations with key figures from the worlds of business and politics and beyond – through video, social media and blogs – as well as expert briefings. Follow @ClimateGroup for the latest.

See the full gallery of #CWNYC graphics and tweets to join the countdown, by clicking below.

#CWNYC 2015

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 

ClimateWeekNYC.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

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