- John Reid MP, formerly UK Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence, is the Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Barack Obama’s announcement that there will be no all-encompassing protocol agreed at Copenhagen underlines that climate change is perhaps the most complex issue facing the world today. In part, this is because it involves long-term thinking and modeling which our existing political, financial and economic institutions and governance frameworks are ill-designed and configured to grapple with and resolve.
With uncertainty building over what, if anything, the Copenhagen Summit can still achieve, now is therefore the time to remind ourselves about some of the larger stakes in play next month at what has been billed by some as the most important environmental summit in world history.
We know already that climate change will impact upon our quality of life and have potentially profound consequences for future generations through, for instance, the impact of rising sea levels, and more extreme weather. In the medium-term, the Stern Review estimates the overall impact on GDP could be 5 to 20 percent from 2050.
This alone should alarm us all.
Moreover, while all will be affected, it is the most vulnerable countries and populations which will suffer earliest and most -- even though they have contributed least to the causes of the problem. This is injustice on a truly global scale and should, in itself, be sufficient reason for all sides to move closer at Copenhagen so that a comprehensive climate change deal can be agreed in 2010 or 2011.