Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, speaker and commentator and one of the UK’s best known environmentalists.
For the last 25 years he has spent his time seeking change toward a more sustainable society at local, national and international levels; from providing ecology and conservation experiences for primary school children, to making the case for new recycling laws, to orchestrating international campaigns for action on rainforests and climate change.
Here he writes in the Independent Review of the Year 2009, looking back at the what has happened with regard to climate change in 2009.
Despite the crippling economic crisis, green challenges remained prominent on the political and public agendas during 2009. This contrasts with previous downturns, during which the environment has been generally relegated to the "to do later" list. The reason it didn't disappear this time is because it is ever more clear that "later" might be too late – especially in relation to the climate change challenge. Most serious politicians get this, so do many businesses. The question is can we convert this realisation into practical change?
Negotiations leading to this month's Copenhagen climate summit were conducted with this purpose in mind. Considering the divergent national interests that exist between the nearly 200 countries involved in this most complex UN process, it is perhaps not surprising that the science-based treaty needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is still elusive. The situation was not helped by the selective leaking of private emails from a few climate change scientists.
This action, clearly calculated to cause maximum political damage before the Copenhagen summit, gave further impetus to the campaign of a few of the so-called "sceptics", who seek every means available to discredit what is now very clear mainstream climate science. I suspect that history will regard this little flurry as comparable to the Battle of the Bulge – a last high impact but doomed counter-attack on what is ultimately an irresistible weight of evidence that underlines the gravest threat to human wellbeing. In any event it had almost no impact on the talks.
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Copyright Speakers Corner 2017