You do have to play 'Guess the question he's answering' though...
Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): Well I think the first thing to, to stress is this is not going to be like the original Rio Summit. The original Rio Summit was, you know, truly revolutionary and, and led to the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, to the Nagoya agreement on bio divers, which spawned the whole sort of outburst if you like of international agreements which really have served the world very well over the last twenty years. This will be in many respects a, a less spectacular occasion, but nonetheless a summit where over a hundred and seventy countries come together to say look we need to, we need to renew our ambition to pursue sustainable development, what in a nutshell does sustainable development mean? It means that we, we shouldn’t just sort of grow first and then clean up later. We have to make sure that the resources which are used for growth and development and prosperity are used sustainably – water, energy, food and so on. But, you know, I, I’m the first to admit that this, this whole process is a lot more cumbersome than probably you or I would, would like and no doubt the result is going to be not quite as ambitious as, as many people including myself would like because you have to get consensus amongst so many different countries from so many different parts of the world.
I don’t think you should measure our commitment simply by who’s at a particular summit. I think if you look at the fact that at this summit I will be leading the debate globally on new ways of measuring nations’ prosperity, what, what I call GDP+ so we don’t just measure growth in, in a, in a sort of narrow economic sense, but also look at the natural resources available to economies. We are moving as a country to measuring our own prosperity in those terms from 2020 onwards. I’ll be working with the World Bank and others at the summit to encourage other countries to do it. I’m announcing later today that we’ll be the first country anywhere in the developed world certainly that’s asking businesses, in this case listed on the London Stock Exchange, to report for the first time ever in a mandatory fashion on their greenhouse gas emissions. And of course we’ve led the world in, in meeting and, and pursuing our target of point seven per cent of GDP allocated to development assistance. So I think on all of these areas it shows real commitment from the United Kingdom. I of course will be pressing other countries to follow our lead, but I’m entirely realistic that getting a whole convoy of over a hundred and seventy countries moving in exactly the same direction is a pretty painstaking business.
My own view is that I don’t think anyone should sort of be fetishistic about subsidies. If you can, if you can support industries like offshore, indeed offshore, onshore offshore wind and other renewable forms of energy without any start up subsidy all the better, so I don’t think subsidies are something which are sort of chiselled in stone. We all accept that over time we want to move to an environment where lots of different ways of producing energy clean, in a, in a clean non carbon way do not rely on tax payer subsidies, but equally it’s obvious it seems to me that in the early stages of these, of these technologies, a bit of support from the tax payer goes a long way and let’s remember there’s a lot of people’s jobs at stake. I mean the, the green alliance has, has estimated that in the, in the green economy in our country almost nine hundred and forty thousand people across over fifty thousand companies are reliant on our success as one of the world’s leading green economies. So, you know, this is not some sort of flight of fancy. The green economy is, is, is a really powerful engine for creating jobs and, and I think everybody accepts that creating jobs is one of the most important challenges we face as a country.
Oh yes I do, I mean I’m not, I’m not addicted to the subsidy, far from it. If we can’t, if we can somehow promote a diverse, clean energy mix without asking tax payers to subsidise it on a temporary basis then all the better. But all, all the evidence shows that if you want to get these new renewable technologies going they need a little bit of support in their sort of early, early years. And that’s was this was always designed to be. But the key thing is are we prepared as a, as a Government and a country to really commit ourselves to being a, a powerhouse in the race to become a clean, sustainable, green economy and we’ve already, we’re already the sixth largest green economy in the world. We already trade in, in low carbon environmental goods and services in a very big way. It’s worth about eight per cent of our national wealth. And we, and we actually run a trade surplus in our, in our green economy which is not the case in many other sectors of the economy. So I just think we should regard this not as a problem, not as a threat, but as real opportunity as we rebalance the economy away from the unsustainable mistakes of the past.
Well let, well let, let’s, let’s just confront some facts. By 2030 our world will need at least fifty per cent more food, forty five per cent more energy and thirty per cent more water and today forty, well, can I, if I can, if I can just, if I can just finish, if I, no, no, no, it’s not, it’s not Armageddon. No, no, let, again, fact, forty per cent of the world’s population right now, two and a half billion people, still lack basic sanitation. Seven hundred and thirty eight million people remain, you know, don’t have access to clean drinking water. These are facts and I’ll say that to a child on the other side of the world who, who hasn’t got access to, to clean drinking water. Say that to the child whose mother has just died because that woman didn’t have access to basic sanitation. To somehow say that we can wish this away by not coming together and trying to do something about it, I think is, is, is, is complacency of, of almost criminal nature. Of course we need to deal with this. We are growing in a way that is quite literally not sustainable, ‘cause we’re not producing the food, the energy and the clean water and the sanitation necessary to sustain many, many millions of people round the world. So I think it is exactly right that we meet as a, as an international community, frustrating and slow moving though these summits might be, much though I might like to get my pen out and simply unilaterally write the conclusion, there is no escape. We have to deal with this globally and therefore it’s right that the summit brings together countries from across the globe.
The Prime Minister remains the Prime Minister, I remain the Deputy Prime Minister and William Hague will be doing Prime Minister’s Questions today and I’m sure he’ll do it magisterially as ever. Thank you.