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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 03:51 GMT 04:51 UK
UK set for Earth Summit pay back
Johannesburg
Johannesburg will host the Earth Summit
Britain is set to become the first country sending delegates to the Johannesburg Earth Summit to agree to help cover the environmental cost.

Green campaigners say this month's 10-day summit on how to encourage sustainable development may do the environment more harm than good.

So now each delegate is being asked to contribute to the Johannesburg Climate Legacy, which aims to raise 3m to be spent on saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions across South Africa.

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister
John Prescott will lead the UK delegation

The UK and Norway are reportedly the countries closest to accepting.

The Earth Summit, also known as the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), runs from 26 August to 4 September.

A total of 60,000 delegates from more than 170 countries are due to visit South Africa for the continent's biggest ever international gathering.

As well as burning thousands of gallons of fuel, their long-haul flights will generate 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide gas - a major contributor to global warming.

Unfavourable publicity

The environmental pay back contribution for Britain's delegation would total 3,000.

But the government is likely to donate more in an attempt to pre-empt unfavourable publicity.

Fears of repeats of the criticism of government "junkets" which accompanied pre-summit talks in Bali apparently prompted Number 10 to cut the delegation's numbers from 100 to 70.

Michael Meacher, Environment Minister
Michael Meacher is one of the 60,000 delegates

The delegation will be led by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, with environment minister Michael Meacher, Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett and International Development Secretary Clare Short joined for the signing ceremony by Tony Blair.

With the ministers will be 45 officials and five security officers.

Chairman of the Green Party in England and Wales Penny Kemp said video-conferencing could have cut the numbers

"Meeting in small numbers you get a lot more done."

Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth, warned: "If politicians go there and have not got the ability or guts to get a decent deal, questions will be asked about whether it was all worth while."


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See also:

08 Aug 02 | Politics
30 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
24 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
15 Jul 02 | Science/Nature

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