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Gearing up to tackle the climate change threat on World Environment Day


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Issued 03/06/2009

Scientific advances can capture the public's imagination and help ignite their enthusiasm to take on the race to tackle climate change.

Lord Drayson, the Minister of State for Science and Innovation, revealed ahead of World Environment Day (Friday 5 June) how he has seen at first hand the huge appetite the public have for cutting-edge green developments from racing-car fans over the past three years as he progressed his campaign towards the Le Mans 24 hour race next weekend.

In 2006, Lord Drayson's Aston Martin racing car was the first sports car to win a major race running on renewable bio-ethanol fuel.

The Aston Martin Vantage GT2 he will use in the gruelling endurance event next weekend is a revolutionary car powered by second-generation bio-ethanol fuel, which uses spent grain, peelings and other waste, rather than purpose grown crops.

After it achieved pole position on its first outing, fans and competitors were keen to know more about the innovative green technology underneath its bonnet.

At the Cheltenham Science Festival this week, Lord Drayson said:

"When my team decided to go green back in 2006, other teams concluded that we'd gone soft. They assumed that my pre-race preparations involved overloading on lentils; that I was driving in open-toed sandals.

"Well, they changed their tune when the car grabbed pole position on its very first outing. Suddenly everyone wanted to know about the science and engineering involved - and that included the fans."

Getting the public excited by how something works, as well as the way in which it can transform their lives, can motivate people to make changes to their own behaviour to tackle the threat of climate change.

Lord Drayson said:

"Do that, and we'll have a public that supports innovation as much for the scientific and technical advances it represents as for the convenience it offers. We'll have a public that appreciate how scientists explore ways to ensure we live within our environmental means."

From warmer temperatures to rising sea levels, from heavier rainfall to changes in health, climate change in the UK will have a serious impact on all of us. The decisions we make now will affect the planet and our way of life for generations to come.

This is why World Environment Day is a good opportunity for the Government to highlight how science and innovation will not just play a vital role in helping us make these decisions, but also be key to a healthy, safe and prosperous future.

The UK is already a world-leader in satellite-driven earth observation. In March, the minister launched NERC's National Centre for Earth Observation, which will monitor the multiple processes affecting the planet - analysing the carbon cycle and atmospheric chemistry and predicting flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruption.

The Government is also investing heavily in next-generation technologies like electric vehicles and researching alternative energy sources, to encourage the country to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. This strategic investment will direct economic recovery resources towards sustainable growth in essential scientific research and future-looking businesses.


1. Photographs of Lord Drayson with his Aston Martin racing car and in his racing suit are available from the DIUS Press Office. Lord Drayson will be racing with the Drayson Racing team in the Le Mans 24-hour race over the weekend of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June 2009. The Le Mans 24-hour race has taken place in the French town for which it is named since 1923 and is the oldest and most celebrated of the endurance races.

2. Lord Drayson gave a speech called "Can we solve the climate change conundrum?" at the Cheltenham Science Festival on Wednesday 3 June within which he discussed many of these issues. Full copies of this speech are available from the DIUS press office.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-06-04 01:28:08 in Economic Articles

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