British Climate Change Minister Michael Fallon said skeptics were downplaying the significance of the trend toward warmer average annual temperatures. He said he recognized there were some natural variations in mean temperatures from year-to-year, but historic trends were alarming.
"We shouldn't be afraid to confront uncomfortable facts simply because they don't suit our arguments or we don't concur with the conclusions of the people that make them," he said in statements published Thursday.
A report published Monday by the International Atomic Energy Agency said the global average temperature was on pace to increase by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades because of continued use of energy resources like oil and coal. Carbon dioxide emissions tied to the production of energy reached a high of 31.6 gigatons last year, the IEA said.
Members of the European Union are debating climate and renewable energy targets for 2030. The EU calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 when compared to the 1990 baseline.
Fallon said the British government views renewable energy and climate change as an economic opportunity.
"That to be greener, more resource efficient and more energy efficient in an age of climate volatility ... is the sensible, pragmatic and long-term thing to do," he said.