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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of Speakers' Corner

1st February 2011

From Industrial Revolution to Green Revolution

The global climate change debate is often characterised in terms of a struggle between developed and developing world countries. While it is easy to understand why, this duality does not really help us in our efforts to strengthen the global response to climate change and global warming. After all, there are developed countries that are leaders in work on adaptation to climate change and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. And there are developing countries that depend on high carbon use sources – such as oil and coal – for their development.

The United Kingdom accepts that it has a historic responsibility to demonstrate the way forward on low carbon growth. As the country where the industrial revolution began, we pioneered the high carbon forms of development that powered the global economy for more than three centuries. This led to unprecedented global prosperity. But it is also the story behind man-made global warming.

My country is now a pioneer in the Green Revolution. Increases in global population and human prosperity – every year in the developing world, millions leave poverty in their aspirational search for a better life – mean that we need to find new ways to grow that do not damage our planet or the prospects of our children’s future. Low carbon growth is vital for all countries.

Two examples. The United Kingdom is still the only country that by law is reducing its emissions, beyond Kyoto Protocol targets to 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. And, to put such legal restraints into practice, the British government is providing incentives to the public and to business to reduce high carbon emissions as fast as possible. With 1,341 megawatts of installed capacity, Britain is already the world’s largest provider of offshore wind through wind turbines, with this expected to grow exponentially in the years to come.

We can all play our part. But the first step is to recognise that the Industrial Revolution is coming to an end, and the Green Revolution needs to begin. Some say that growth and survival are incompatible. It is our responsibility to future generations to ensure that they are compatible.

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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