The main aim of the UN climate summit at Durban, which began on November 28 and runs until December 9, is to produce an agreement about targets for emissions by developed countries, and longer term targets from developing countries. But with sudden switches in energy policies, environmental regulations and accidents such as Fukushima, plus increasing financial fragility, national governments, especially here in Europe, are increasingly aware how policy in these areas impacts on everyone’s lives as well as the economy.
Decision-makers thus have a great responsibility and a very difficult task to pursue long term objectives at the same time, especially about climate change. The key question is how best to do this, and should this involve only regional, national and city-level policies, or are binding global agreements also necessary?
The world population has officially reached seven billion, according to the UN. This historic landmark reminds us of the massive challenges, including here in Europe, created by an ever-increasing number of humans on the planet.
Growing populations are also driving another mega trend — urbanisation through migration. In 1800, less than 3 percent of the population lived in cities (mainly in Europe), yet by the end of 2008, this had risen to more than 50 percent (much higher still in Europe), and there were 26 megacities (cities of 10 million or more inhabitants), including Moscow, Paris and London.
It is more than a year since the devastating July and August 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected about 20 million people and killed an estimated 2,000. Many believe that the disaster was partially fuelled by global warming, and that there is a real danger that Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent in general, could become the focus of much more regular catastrophic flooding.
Lord Professor Julian Hunt is Vice President of GLOBE (Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment), Visiting Professor at Delft University, and former Director-General of the UK Met Office. The opinions expressed are his own.
Ahead of the UN Summit in Cancun, legislators from across the world, ranging from United States Congressman Bart Gordon to Chinese Congressman Wang Guangtao, met in China earlier this month at the GLOBE Climate Change Symposium. While the prospects for a comprehensive deal being reached in Mexico have been widely talked down, much progress can still be made and there remains substantial room for optimism.
-Lord Julian Hunt is visiting Professor at Delft University, and former Director-General of the UK Met Office. The opinions expressed are his own.-
The unusually large rainfall from this year’s monsoon has caused the most catastrophic flooding in Pakistan for 80 years, with the U.N. estimating that around one fifth of the country is underwater. This is thus truly a crisis of the very first order.
-Lord Julian Hunt is a Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.-
In their different ways, the disruption and damage caused by the ongoing Icelandic Volcano eruption, and the major oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, have underlined how low-probability events can wreak havoc locally and across the world.
- Julian Hunt is visiting professor at Delft University and formerly director general of the UK Meteorological Office. The opinions expressed are his own.-
In the past few weeks, there has been a steady stream of stories highlighting major concerns over scientific evidence relating to climate change. One example has been the world-wide furore relating to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) assertion that all Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.
- Julian Hunt is visiting professor at Delft University and formerly director general of the UK Meteorological Office; Elsie Owusu is with Just Ghana, based in Ghana and UK; Arun Shrestha is the director of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal; Charles Kennel is distinguished professor emeritus, University of California in San Diego. The opinions expressed are their own. -
Nobel Laureates, industries and political leaders are emphasising the seriousness of global warming and climate change and calling for global action to reduce the accelerating trends of greenhouse gas emissions. But it is equally vital for regions to initiate their own policies to deal with the growing impacts of climate change on their environments and their communities.