December 10, 2007 / 3:56 PM / in 10 years

Freedom, not climate, is under threat - Czech leader

BERLIN (Reuters) - The movement against global warming has turned into a new religion, an ideology that threatens to undermine freedom and the world’s economic and social order, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday.

Klaus was speaking to reporters at the launch of the German translation of his new book, a sceptical look at the worldwide campaign to stop climate change entitled “Blue Planet in Green Chains: What Is Under Threat -- Climate or Freedom?”.

”My answer to that question is unambiguous,“ said Klaus. ”Freedom is under threat.

“Also (threatened) is the prevailing social and economic order, contemporary civilisation, the current prosperity of developed countries and the chances of developing countries to achieve a similar level of prosperity.”

He said the climate change movement was not based on science and that theories about man-made global warming could not be proven.

“It has become a new religion or new ideology and in that sense I think it’s justified to compare it with other ideologies,” Klaus said.

Klaus, an economist and former Czech prime minister who championed the free market, is one of the world’s most vocal climate-change sceptics. On Sept. 24 he gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly expressing doubts whether climate change was man-made.

Several diplomats said the U.N. speech irritated some small island nations and may have cost Prague a hotly contested seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Klaus said the climate was constantly changing and current developments were no exception. There was no scientific consensus on what caused climate change, although mankind is playing a marginal role.

He added that any likely changes to the climate “in the relevant future” would not threaten the human race.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels, trap heat in the atmosphere. Scientists say that if emissions are not curbed, sea levels will rise while drought and floods will become more frequent.

A U.N. meeting in Bali running to Dec. 14 is seeking to launch talks on a new pact to slow climate change but is split about whether to include guidelines such as a mandatory cut in greenhouse gas emissions by rich nations.

Klaus said the timing of his book launch was a coincidence.

He was asked if there would be a copy of the book for U.S. President George W. Bush, whose government is fighting in Bali against hard targets for cutting greenhouse gases.

“He already has one,” said Klaus.

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