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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Cameron visits Norwegian glacier
David Cameron driving a dog-sled in Norway
Opponents accuse Mr Cameron of chasing photo opportunities
Conservative leader David Cameron has visited a Norwegian glacier to see the effect of global warming first hand.

The trip coincided with a UN speech on climate change by Gordon Brown and both men have written articles on the environment for the Independent.

Mr Cameron's visit to the remote island of Svalbard came after he urged people to "vote blue to go green" in the 4 May local elections.

Mr Brown meanwhile said environmental issues must be central to policies.

Mr Cameron wrote in the Independent that there was a need for a greater sense of urgency on climate change.

He was determined to take advantage of his "unique opportunity" as Tory leader to stimulate debate on "an issue we cannot afford to ignore".

Geothermal energy

In the article, Mr Cameron said: "This is one of the reasons I decided to go on a fact-finding visit with WWF to the Arctic Research Station at Ny Alesund in Norway.

"I want to see for myself the effects of climate change, not just to see a retreating glacier but to meet leading scientific and research experts.

"Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the world and we must have a much greater sense of urgency about tackling it."

During his trip to Norway, Mr Cameron also visited a business park to see its heating system which is provided by boreholes using geothermal energy.

And he announced in Oslo that he is convening a Conservative Local Green Energy Summit later this year to help Tory-run councils learn from Norway.

Mr Cameron will also meet Norwegian politicians including Foreign Minister Jonas Ghar Store, who told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he welcomed the visit.

"I think he has chosen a good location. It is the northernmost point in Norway and in Europe, and it is where we can observe most clearly what climate change means," he said.

On Friday, Mr Cameron is due to announce how he would replace the climate change levy on industry which distinguished between low and high carbon energy sources.

He says tackling global warming should not hinder the economy but allow for "green growth".

The Conservative leader hopes the green message is one that will resonate with voters as he tries to bring about a Tory revival in England's urban areas on 4 May.

Global posturing?

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has accused Mr Cameron of "flip-flopping" on the environment.

And Mr Brown said the Tories must go beyond words to produce substantive environmental problems.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said: "Warm words and pretty pictures are not enough to tackle global warming.

"The Tories have not come up with a single hard-edged proposal to deliver the CO2 emissions cuts that are needed. Until they do, they have zero credibility on green issues."

Mr Brown is expected to use his speech to the UN to say: "Environmental sustainability is not an option, it is a necessity.

"For economies to flourish, for global poverty to be banished, for the wellbeing of the world's people to be enhanced - we have a compelling and ever more urgent duty of stewardship to take care of the natural environment and resources on which our economic activity and social fabric depends."

But the Green Party says there is a widening gulf between what the Tories and Labour say they want to do on the environment and their actions in government.

The party's principal speaker, Keith Taylor, said: "Cameron claims the environment is his priority, but I'm not holding my breath.

"We have yet to see any substantive policies to tackle climate change emerge from the blank canvass that currently constitutes Tory party policy."


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