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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 07:01 GMT
Morgan climate remarks criticised
Rhodri Morgan
Mr Morgan made the comments in a speech at the Senedd
There has been more criticism of Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan's claim climate change would not be "entirely unhelpful" if it meant warmer weather.

Mr Morgan's remarks in the Welsh assembly were condemned by opposition politicians as "utterly irresponsible".

Environmental group Friends of the Earth Cymru later said the comments were "dangerously complacent".

Reacting to the criticism, Mr Morgan's spokesperson said his remarks needed to be taken in context.

Mr Morgan said in a speech on Monday night: "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.

The point he was making is that Wales must act globally and not put self-interest first
Rhodri Morgan's spokesperson

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

During weekly questions in the Senedd 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 said.

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

His views were immediately condemned by Liberal Democrat Mike German, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones and Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne.

The criticisms were supported by Friends of the Earth's assembly campaigner, Gordon James, who said: "This is a dangerously complacent and irresponsible statement.

"Although opportunities exist in areas such as clean energy developments, the environmental and economic threats posed by climate change significantly outweigh any benefits.

"The climate will become more unstable producing extremes of weather, such as flooding, droughts and storms, which will cause significant economic, social and environmental problems."

Hollywood sign
Mr Morgan said Wales' climate could become like California's

He added: "Our response to the severe threat posed by climate change is already far too little too late.

"What we need now is strong political action - this sort of muddled thinking from the first minister shows a serious lack of leadership on the most important issue of the day."

John Bunker, head of south Wales seaside resort Porthcawl's tourist association, said any benefits from warmer temperatures would be followed by potential drawbacks associated with global warming.

He said: "As far as we are concerned, warmer temperatures wouldn't be a bad thing, but what would that do to the rest of the planet?

"We don't want the problems that come with global warming like storms and flooding."

He added: "Tourists come to Wales and the UK for the history, the scenery and culture rather than the weather and that will continue."

Reacting to the criticism of Mr Morgan's speech, the first minister's spokesperson said the comments "need to be read in the context of a speech on Wales's economic future".

The spokesperson added: "He did say that our climate would become similar to that of Spain or Southern California and that this would hardly be unhelpful to Wales in many ways.

"But the point he was making is that Wales must act globally and not put self-interest first.

"He was stressing that even if climate change has advantages for Wales it will be catastrophic for other parts of the world."

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