Brussels, 04 Nov 2004
Germany and the UK are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on climate change research, both parties announced on 3 November.
The announcement was made during a German-UK climate conference in Berlin, opened by Queen Elizabeth II during a state visit to Germany. The agreement will pave the way for the development of a joint research agenda involving all major research institutes and funding organisations from both countries.
'Germany and Great Britain are leading the way in Europe in climate protection. We are both of the opinion that research efforts must be strengthened in order to enable us to meet the challenges of climate change effectively,' said German Minister for Education and Research, Edelgard Bulmahn.
The announcement came shortly after the unveiling of new research showing that the Arctic ice cap is melting at an unprecedented rate. Commissioned by the Arctic Council and involving researchers from eight countries, including Denmark, Finland and Sweden, the research shows that Arctic ice is half as thick as 30 years ago. If melting continues at the current rate, there will be no ice in the Arctic during the summer by 2070, say scientists.
These latest findings have led to a fresh round of appeals from researchers, environmental organisations and governments alike for urgent action.
Speaking at the Berlin conference, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett said that the UK's presidencies of the G8 and EU next year offer the chance to work with Germany and other EU states to demonstrate common resolve on tackling climate issues.
'We want to seize the opportunity to generate a fresh and reinvigorated strategic vision for putting the world on a path to a sustainable low-carbon future, taking account both of the scientific evidence and the technological challenge,' said Ms Beckett.
'An improved awareness of current climate trends and extreme weather conditions are the important climate themes of the future,' added Ms Bulmahn. She emphasised the importance of transferring research results into practice and developing new business opportunities.
The Queen has raised the issue of climate change a number of times during her visit to Germany. Speaking at a state banquet she referred to climate change as 'a new and urgent challenge we face together'.