Klaus tones down anti-Green rhetoric in UN address on climate change

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

Czech President Vaclav Klaus took the opportunity to discuss one of his favourite topics on Monday, when he spoke at the first ever conference on climate change at the United Nations. For some time now Mr Klaus has been challenging received wisdom on global warming, saying mankind is not to blame for rises in temperature, and downplaying both the extent and impact of such increases. But the president's speech in New York was notable for the absence of the fiery language with which he has previously attacked environmentalists.

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK
In the past Vaclav Klaus has described global warming as a myth. The author of "A Blue Not a Green World" has gone so far as to say environmentalism represents an attack on freedom and is a modern counterpart to communism.

But on Monday Mr Klaus (whose views contrasted sharply with the vast majority of other speakers at UN HQ) used rather more moderate language. Instead of bashing the Green movement, he called for a fairer, more open debate on the science of global warming. He said the risks posed were too small to merit the high cost of eliminating them.

The Czech president also made a call for a second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as a kind of counter-balance to the current one:

"The UN should organize two parallel IPCCs and publish two competing reports. To get rid of the one-sided monopoly is a sine qua non for an efficient and rational debate. Providing the same or comparable financial backing to both groups of scientists is a necessary starting point."

Martin Bursik
As for reaction to his address, President Klaus told Czech Television that there so much confusion at UN HQ he had not had a chance to discuss the issue much with other delegates. (Representatives of 150 states attended the debate). But he said his address had received attention.

Here in the Czech Republic, Environment Minister and Green Party boss Martin Bursik said the president's stance had not been in line with Czech government policy. But he said he was also relieved Mr Klaus had not used stronger language. His views were isolated in New York and he had toned his opinions down somewhat, said Mr Bursik.