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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 20:41 GMT
Climate change remarks 'blunder'
Rhodri Morgan

Wales' first minister has said that climate change would not be "entirely unhelpful" if it brought summer weather similar to California's or Spain's.

Opposition politicians called Rhodri Morgan's remarks a "blunder" and "utterly irresponsible".

Mr Morgan told assembly members some climate change was unavoidable and would have to be adapted to.

The first minister's spokesman said the remark should be read in the context of his speech on Wales' economic future.

He added: "They in no way contradict what he said today in leading the debate on climate change and what Wales needs to do to adapt to the climate change we cannot avoid.

"At the same time we must take all steps practically possible to curb the climate change we can avoid."

The assembly government plans to make a series of announcements to help tackle climate change over the coming months.

It also announced a scheme to plant a tree for every baby born in Wales.

Mr Morgan in a speech on Monday night said: "If our climate in Wales is going to be more like Spain's or southern California's in the summer, then Spain will be more like the Sahara.

"If that is the kind of climate shift we cannot avoid having by 2050, it will hardly be unhelpful to Wales."

STEPS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
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Source: Welsh Assembly Government

During weekly questions the following day, Mr Morgan said he was happy to repeat his comments.

"There is some climate change you can't stop, it's already built into the system and as well as curbing it we need to adapt to it," he argued.

"If the north becomes hotter, it will not be entirely unhelpful."

Mr German, AM for south Wales east said he was "amazed" by the first minister's "staggeringly complacent attitude" towards climate change.

He said Wales should play a "leading role" in the green revolution.

"But we cannot do that while we have a "do-nothing" first minister who isn't merely denying climate change, he's positively welcoming it on the grounds that we'd have more sun in the summer," he said.

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones described Mr Morgan's comments as "remarkable and utterly irresponsible."

Conservative leader, Nick Bourne, said this "blunder" was worse than the first minister's failure to appear at the D-day landings commemorations and gave the impression that Wales did not care about global warming.

Mr Morgan said he was referring to climate change that scientists had already proved to be inevitable.

He went to outline assembly government plans to tackle climate change with a series of announcements over the next few months.

Meanwhile, a scheme has been launched to plant a tree for every baby and adopted child in Wales from Autumn 2007.

Each child will receive a certificate telling them where their tree was planted, to give them an "immediate link" with their environment, Mr Morgan said.

It is estimated the scheme would create of 30 hectares of woodland each year.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch Rhodri Morgan's remarks



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