House of Lords Science & Technology Select Committee



Global warming, if it continues unchecked, will have potentially devastating consequences for the planet.  Scientists are near-unanimous in reaching this conclusion.  The international community endorsed their views in adopting the Kyoto Protocol.  But some of the largest industrial nations have so far lacked the political will to act.

The Government must take action at the highest levels to persuade other States, in particular the United States and Russia, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. 

This is one of the major recommendations of a Lords Committee which has been looking into the scientific basis of international agreements on environmental matters.

Lord Mitchell, who chaired the inquiry, said:

"Global warming can be combated only by global action.  We have seen examples in the past of successful international action - for instance the Montreal Protocol, which led to a reduction in the use of the CFCs which are destroying the ozone layer." 

"The Kyoto Protocol will ensure that nations begin to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  It gets the process up and running.  But it cannot come into force without ratification by the United States or Russia - preferably both."

"The Government must do everything in its power to persuade both these countries to take action."

The Committee made a number of recommendations on ways to improve the scientific basis of treaties:

  • Improve the scientific expertise available within Government departments

  • Better coordination between departments

  • More involvement of academic scientists and industry in negotiations

  • More scientific exchanges with the developing world

  • Promotion of a scientific approach when dealing with risk

  • Continued support of the vital research undertaken in Antarctica.


1. The members of Sub-Committee I of the Science and Technology Committee who conducted this inquiry were:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
Lord Oxburgh
Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior
Lord Hunt of Chesterton
Lord Wade of Chorlton
Lord McColl of Dulwich
Baroness Walmsley
Lord Mitchell (Chairman)
Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe
Lord Wright of Richmond

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: Science and Treaties, Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, 3rd Report, Session 2003-04, HL Paper 110 - I , ISBN 010 400471 1, price £14.50. The full text of the report will be available shortly after publication on

3. In the course of the inquiry, the sub-committee looked at the background and working of a large number of agreements, including:

  • Antarctic Treaty

  • Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer

  • Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change

  • Convention on Trade in Endangered Species

  • Rotterdam Convention on Trade in hazardous Pesticides

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

4. The Committee has recently published follow-up reports to its report on the computer chip business (“Chips for Everything: Follow-up”), and on Science and the RDAs (“Science and the RDAs: Follow-up”). It is about to complete an inquiry into Renewable Energy.  Publication of the report is expected in July.

Further information from:

Michael Collon
Clerk of the Committee,
on +44 (0)20 7219 8650

For copies of the report contact

Jillian Bailey
Press and Publicity Officer (Committees),
on +44 (0)20 7219 8659