Gordon Brown answers young people's questions on climate change

04 December 2009

Gordon Brown and senior Ministers took part in a question and answer session on climate change this morning in the Darwin Centre, ahead of next week’s Copenhagen climate summit.

The audience consisted of 80 young people, who questioned Brown and his panel about the green economy, his hopes for a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen, and the involvement of young people in making decisions about climate change.

To answer their questions, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was accompanied by Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Glenys Kinnock, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Involving young people

‘Every line in the text of the Copenhagen agreement is a line about your future,’ the chair of the panel discussion told the audience.

Young people are particularly affected by climate change but some listeners questioned whether enough was being done to educate them about sustainable development and to involve them in the process of decision-making.

There are currently no youth advisors to the Department for Energy and Climate Change. To change that, Ed Miliband announced in the Museum’s Attenborough Studio this morning that a youth advisory panel will now be set up.

Hopes for Copenhagen

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on everyone in the audience to take action against climate change and put pressure on organisations with global influence, as all countries need to work together to reach an agreement in Copenhagen.

He told the audience that he hopes the climate summit will lead to a legally binding agreement within 6 months. This would include emissions cuts by richer countries along with an aid package for poorer countries to help them develop using green technologies.

He called for a $10 billion fund, from the UK, USA and EU, to kick start this process.

‘Catastrophe awaits us if we don’t react strongly and quickly to the challenge of climate change,’ he said.

Half way there

The Prime Minister also told the audience that the environment can cope with 44 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. At the moment, global emissions are over 50 billion tonnes, and pre-Copenhagen talks have now brought the promised level down to 49 billion tonnes. ‘That means we’re half way there,’ said Brown.

Over the next few days, there will be pressure on governments to bring that level down to 44 billion tonnes and beyond, as scientists question whether species such as corals could survive even at that level.

Climate change research at the Museum

The event took place in the Museum’s new Attenborough Studio in the Darwin Centre, metres away from the Climate Change wall. This new exhibit highlights the potential dangers of climate change, such as potential species extinctions, and draws attention to the work of Museum scientists in this field.

A number of the 350 plus scientists who work at the Museum study Earth’s biodiversity and the environment in the past to discover the likely effects of the current man-made phase of climate change.

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