A "truly global deal" on climate at talks in Paris next year could have huge economic benefits for the UK, according to Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.
Businesses are recognising the opportunities involved in tackling global warm and investment in renewables is growing, he said as he outlined the Government’s vision for the deal, but failure to secure a deal at talks in Paris next year would seriously reduce the world's chances of keeping global warming to manageable levels.
The Government's Paris 2015 document sets out the "overwhelming" scientific case for action on climate change, the risks the UK faces – from floods to food shortages – and the benefits to the economy, health and well-being of tackling carbon pollution.
But there are "huge economic opportunities" in a deal, which would spark international investment in low-carbon technology and innovation, and energy efficiency, the Government's report said.
For the UK these could include hundreds of thousands of low-carbon jobs, a booming small and medium enterprise sector and energy efficiency measures which cut consumer bills and improve living standards.
Davey said the EU should show the lead on climate change in the run-up to the negotiations in Paris by signing up this year to a target of at least 40 per cent domestic greenhouse gas cuts by 2030 on 1990 levels and he called for the G7 and G20 to follow suit.
But while all countries needed to take action, nations should contribute to addressing the problem according to their circumstances, so that states such as India could see emissions continue to rise in the short-term as they develop.
Davey said: "Our vision is of a successful agreement in Paris that reflects the economic realities, that reflects individual countries' abilities to make contributions, is sensitive to their industrial development and the standard of living of its people.
"We need an agreement that is credible – and fair - with emissions reductions from all countries - but with commitments that reflect the ability of countries to make reductions."
The unveiling of the Government’s vision comes as the World Meteorological Organisation revealed earlier today that concentrations of carbon dioxide increased at their fastest rate for 30 years in 2013, despite warnings from the world's scientists of the need to cut emissions to halt temperature rises.
Data show levels of the gas increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984, reaching atmospheric concentrations of 142 per cent of what they were before the Industrial Revolution.
Efforts to secure a legally-binding global deal on climate change failed in Copenhagen in 2009. The previous agreement, negotiated in Kyoto in 1997, was never ratified by the US and did not include developing countries such as China, whose emissions have grown to the point that by 2020 they will be greater than the EU and US combined.
Speaking at a conference at Aviva Investors today on reaching a global climate change deal, Davey will say: "While the negotiations will undoubtedly be challenging, I judge the prospects of a comprehensive climate change deal to be the best since we first began this journey many years ago."