Greenpeace in plea to business in campaign on climate changes


GREENPEACE has urged the Government and the financial sector to "get behind the campaign to stop climate change" by investing in renewable sources of energy, such as solar power.

A press conference yesterday marked the publication of a new book, Climate Change and the Financial Sector, a record of the proceedings of the world's first global warming conference for insurers, bankers and other representatives of the financial services sector.

Held in Berlin last April to coincide with the first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the meeting led to Greenpeace forging new links with major insurance and reinsurance companies throughout the world which tear catastrophic losses from climate change.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, the book's editor, said these companies were "increasingly coming to realise that their industry will be the first losers to changes in climatic conditions". They were also among the first to respond, by joining environmentalists to call for changes in policy.

He spoke at length about the consequences not only for the environment but for the global financial industry, if action was not taken "immediately" to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. He also emphasised that climate change was now a fact, not a theory.

At the Berlin conference, top executives from the worldwide insurance sector became part of the lobbying effort to persuade delegates that its causes - the emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" from burning fossil fuels - would have to be confronted.

For the first time, "men in grey suits" lined up with environmentalists in taking on lobbyists for the oil industry, the oil producing states and others with a vested interest in fossil fuels. This showed "just how worried" insurers bad become about climate change, said Dr Leggett.

Ms Clare O'Grady Walshe, executive director of Greenpeace Ireland, said she and her colleagues had met a number of senior executives from the Irish financial sector earlier this week and were "very encouraged" by the response they received.

"The Irish financial sector needs to join those abroad who have already begun to lobby for green investment in clean, renewable sources of energy, such as solar power," she said. Greenpeace regards this as crucial if solar energy is to become competitive with fossil fuels.

Ms O'Grady Walshe said Greenpeace was also "encouraged" by the attitude of the Minister for the Environment Mr Howlin, to the suggestions it had put to him at a recent meeting. Yesterday, a Greenpeace delegation met Mr Emmet Stagg, the Minister of State with responsibility for alternative energy.

Climate Change and the Financial Sector, edited by Dr Jeremy Leggett, is available from Greenpeace Ireland, 44 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2. Telephone (01) 61 9836.