Why Climate Change Matters
Jean Monnet Memorial Lecture 2010
The Aftermath of Copenhagen
The 2010 iCES Jean Monnet Memorial Lecture organised in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK offered an opportunity for four prominent commentators on climate change to present their views on the impact of the recent Copenhagen Conference
Jonathon Porritt, writer and broadcaster on sustainable development, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, formerly Director of Friends of the Earth (1984-90) and Co-Chair of the Green Party (1980-83); Ian Katz, Deputy Editor of the Guardian, currently overseeing the paper's ambitious plans on the environment including both on-line and newspaper coverage. Malini Mehra, Founder & CEO of the Centre for Social Markets (CSM), a non-profit organisation that has pioneered work on sustainability and corporate responsibility in India and the Diaspora; Peter Luff, Chairman of the European Movement UK and Chief Executive Officer of Action for a Global Climate Community.
The failure of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change to live up to expectations has inevitably led not only to a deep sense of frustration and disappointment but also to a feeling that the whole issue needs to be approached in an entirely different way if practical progress is to be made. The ambition underlying the Institute of Contemporary European Studies (iCES) Jean Monnet Memorial Lecture held on 28 April 2010 at Regent’s College and entitled ‘Climate Change is “Dropping off the Agenda” – Does it Really Matter?’ was to take stock of the revised environmental landscape that has emerged in the aftermath of Copenhagen.
Engaging with Creative Innovations for Climate Change
Porritt was in no doubt that conventional ways of talking about the issue needed to be changed.
In his view science alone would not convince the general public.
What was required was not `a sack cloth and ashes doomsday scenario’, but rather enthusiastic support for a creative and innovative low-carbon approach to future development. Porritt argued that this approach needs to be allied to energetic and vigorous advocacy of the social and economic benefits of an accelerated transition to a low carbon world.
The Role of Science Globally
Ian Katz, in contrast with Jonathon Porritt, insisted that the case for climate action in the aftermath of Copenhagen and Climate Gate must be based on solid scientific evidence.
He argued for the need to make progress on climate action through incremental and steady progress on the ground rather than through what will probably remain elusive globally negotiated deals.
At a time when politicians appear to be disengaged, it falls in his view to civil society ‘to pick up the running, and keep this issue alive’.
New Generations for Climate Action
Malini Mehra highlighted the real sense of fatigue now surrounding the gatherings of conventional groupings in the climate change field.
Mehra made the case for moving beyond the traditional actors and creating new ‘coalitions of the willing’ who genuinely believe in a low carbon economic future.
She also offered an illuminating analysis of the climate change politics emerging in India and China.
Renewable Energy in Europe
Peter Luff focused specifically on the plight of developing countries in Africa and Asia, arguing the need for enhanced cooperation between the developing and developed world in projects based on large scale renewable energy.
Specifically, he made the case for the European Union to take a leadership role in this field. Although sidelined at the Copenhagen conference.
In his view, the EU should following the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, assume a more imaginative climate action role that can build trust and confidence with the countries of the developing word.
Despite differences of emphasis all four speakers were unanimous in the view that climate change mattered to us all, and that we should all play a part in putting it back on the agenda.
Read Here the published version of this Lecture, Download the iCES Occasional Paper 05 Climate Change Post Copenhagen