CLIMATE CHANGE will become unstoppable within a decade unless the UK government makes dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and convinces other countries to follow suit, former environment minister Elliot Morley warned this week.
In an exclusive and impassioned interview with NCE, Morley also called for more collaboration between government departments.
Morley was a surprise casualty of prime minister Tony Blair's cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago (News last week).
He had been environment minister for nine years, and last year was tasked with leading policy on climate change. He said he still had not been given a reason for being dismissed.
Morley believes that climate change can still be addressed but that time is running out. 'I'm very concerned about the timescale, ' he said.
'There are some scientists who believe we're past the tipping point [at which climate change becomes irreversible].
I'm not so sure that's true at the moment.
'But I certainly think we have a short window to make a difference - maybe less than a decade.
'If we're going to make any impact on climate change, it has to be a collaborative effort at all levels, otherwise it's going to fail. It's got to be across all sectors, nationally and internationally.'
Morley said that closer working between government departments would be essential to deliver change at the pace required.
'The Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs doesn't have the capacity to do it on its own, and at the moment a lot of the resource implications have fallen onto them, ' he said.
'We need to see more from the Department of Trade and Industry and more from Transport. It has to be an acrossgovernment effort, in the same way as it has to be an international effort.'
Morley lambasted other G8 industrial nations for dragging their heels on climate change.
'There's too much resistance.
Other countries are moving at a snail's pace, ' he said.
'The attitude of the Americans is completely unjustiable. Most European countries are going to miss their Kyoto targets. Unless we get more commitment internationally, we're going to go past the tipping point and the consequences globally will be horrendous.
Global warming, Morley warned, could lead to severe coastal and uvial flooding, drought, heatwaves, run-away fires and hurricanes across the world. Insect plagues and disease epidemics have also been forecast.
'The oil producing countries use their power and influence to block moves to fight climate change, ' he said.
But he described the lack of action on climate change from these nations as 'completely irrational'.
'They could be investing their oil profits in alternative technologies and get a very good return on that, ' he said. 'Their position is inexplicable.'