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Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 13:25 GMT
Sir Crispin Tickell and Commissioner Margot Wallstrom
SIR CRISPIN TICKELL, FORMER UN AMBASSADOR NOVEMBER 19th, 2000 Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used DAVID FROST
Here in the studio, Sir Crispin Tickell, once our man at the UN and the leading adviser to successive governments on the environment. Crispin, hello, very good to see you. CRISPIN TICKELL
Nice to see you. DAVID FROST
Is it true it's all the papers are full of this gloomy thing we mentioned there, six per cent, is, can we only touch at the edge of the problem of global warming? Is it too late? CRISPIN TICKELL
Well, it's never too late. In the case of the Kyoto agreement, even if all the countries concerned were to ratify it, to put it into effect, it wouldn't make an enormous amount of difference. So in a sense it is a rather symbolic important event as being a kind of first step. But the chances of us all agreeing even to this very minimum amount of reduction are pretty small at the moment, largely because of the position of the United States. DAVID FROST
Well, I was going to say, we've just been talking about the United States in the election sense, but you've said that they are the real problem. CRISPIN TICKELL
They're the villians of the piece because they have something like four per cent of the world's population but they emit almost a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions which are poisoning the atmosphere. And so DAVID FROST
That may be partially due to the fact that they are rather more industrialised than part of the world. CRISPIN TICKELL
Well, that's perfectly true but the other industrial countries are ready to come along and the Americans show marked signs of reluctance. In fact, in their own interest they should. But it's a curious combination because in the United States the scientists are some of the best but it is the Congress which has been heavily influenced by vested interest, which is blocking everything. And the last administration, even with Mr Gore as vice-president, didn't even dare to submit the Kyoto protocol to Congress for ratification. DAVID FROST
So, what if the rest of the world gets truly noble in its dealing with these subjects, does it means it's doomed just because America is not or is there a way of persuading America? CRISPIN TICKELL
Well, I'm afraid that the only way of, there are two ways of persuading the Americans. One is that they have some nice right catastrophe that is, as evidence of the floods were in this country last, the last few days, or, perhaps better still, is that the rest of the world takes measures to protect their interests. Supposing for example, that Europe and Japan and the other emitters all have carbon taxes, or some kind of tax on the amount of carbon that they emit, then they might have to have a kind of tax on American imports, which would as it were redress the balance. And that would be very unwelcome to the United States because it would mean a tax on their exports when they went to other industrial countries. DAVID FROST
But that would be a trade war then, wouldn't it? CRISPIN TICKELL
Well it would partly be a trade war but I'm not going to take too seriously the World Trade Organisation because it's record on environmental matters is uniformly bad, but nevertheless, that is the kind of measure that you might envisage if the Americans are alone among the industrial countries in not obliging by doing these things. And then there's the rest of the world and what are we going to do about the rest of the world? Who are all increasing their carbon emissions at the moment. As they say, if the industrial countries who made the mess don't do anything, then why on earth should we? DAVID FROST
And what about a country like China. They face great problems and they're expanding, and I know you spent time there and so on. I mean, what if they came out for nuclear fuel, or something? Clean fuel? CRISPIN TICKELL
Well in the case of China, I think they are going to be probably more effected by climate change than almost any other country. And so the only way to persuade countries to come along is to show how much it is in their interest to come along. In the case of China there are a lot of models that show that they might get less rainfall and in the wrong place and so this would, now at the moment they are suffering from a big drought, but on the nuclear side they've got to generate their energy by some means and I think that China has been showing a lot of enterprise. They are looking at new nuclear technology, new technologies at the moment and they are also looking at new ways of generating energy from the sunlight. So the Chinese are showing a very positive attitude and when I was there last week I was very encouraged by what I heard. DAVID FROST
And in terms of the way in which global warming and all these things seems to be so prevalent in the world, and do we have to maybe look forward to more floods, regular floods, or whatever, but even more important than that, I mean, is there anything further that could be done? I mean was there a moment, Crispin, when we could have got this right before global warming when this far, was the moment missed in 1956, or something, when we could have taken hold of this problem? CRISPIN TICKELL
I think it's very difficult to say because we are the inheritors of a century or more of industrialisation. So we're inheriting what our ancestors did, not just our grandfathers, but our great great grandfathers did. And what's so depressing is the fact that what we do or don't do now will haunt our great great grandchildren. So it's an important moment but it's never too late to do something. And that's what we ought to be trying to do now. DAVID FROST
It's never too late to do something. Well, we're joined now from the conference centre in The Hague by Margot Wallstrom, the European Union Commissioner on the Environment. Margot, good day. MARGOT WALLSTROM
Very good of you to join us. We were just talking with Sir Crispin Tickell there, are you confident that this Kyoto protocol will be signed on by at least the European nations? MARGOT WALLSTROM
We have all come to do that and I trust that also all the other delegations come with a clear will to actually sign an agreement and being able to ratify the Kyoto protocol. DAVID FROST
And in fact Sir Crispin Tickell just said that in fact America is the villain of the piece, do you feel that? MARGOT WALLSTROM
Well of course it would be in a way absurd if the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases would not sign the Kyoto protocol and ratify it. I think they play a very important role, also to make this whole process credible. DAVID FROST
Do you think it's too late? Do you think we've left all this too late, global warming has gone too far? We can only improve things at the fringes? MARGOT WALLSTROM
No, it's not too late. We have to, we have to do everything we can to actually, children and grandchildren, bring them a better future but the matter of the fact is that it is already, we already see the signs of ice caps melting and actually many of the small island states in the Pacific, for example, they have already experienced climate change in a way that will force them to move or to change their lives. So it is already here, it's not only for future generations but we already see the effects of climate change. It's never too late but we have to take action now. DAVID FROST
Action now. And what is the most important action, apart from signing the protocol, what is the most important thing that could come out of this conference? People always say, they gather, they talk, and nothing ever comes of it in the way of action. What's the most important thing you think could come out of this week? MARGOT WALLSTROM
I think that to be able to establish a good balance between addressing the root causes of climate change, to look at our systems for energy and transportation and agricultural systems and what is here called the flexible mechanism. That is emissions, trading, projects together with the developing countries, to have a good balance between these two and to make the protocol again, the rules, workable and understandable to all parties. That would be a very good achievement and also to work together with the developing countries, I think these issues are the most important. DAVID FROST
Margot, thank you very much indeed for joining us. From The Hague, there, Margot Wallstrom, showing what the action could show in the week ahead. END
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