The perfect storm ahead: 4 months on and it looks no calmer.

Following on from my last blog entry and my new determination to get this blog up and running, I revisited a draft post I worked on shortly after joining WordPress in February (see below).  I thought the post was particularly relevant given the recent criticism the government has received from the Confederation of British Industry regarding its environmental policy http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/08/coalition-miss-emissions-targets-cbi.  The CBI’s climate change tracker http://climatechange.cbi.org.uk/policy/climate-change-tracker/climate-change-tracker found that greenhouse gas emissions from industry and transport remains high as new policies are not yet taking effect.  Therefore, four months on from his speech to the the RGS, evidence to support Chris Huhne’s optimisum  regarding the perfect storm sadly looks scant. 

February 2011 -Recently I was lucky enough to attend the RGS’s Perfect Storm conference.  The conference gathered academics, NGOs, environmental activists, business leaders and government ministers to discuss future environmental challenges and climate change. 

The conference took its name form a report by the UK’s chief scientist, John Beddington, which stated that the combination of food, water and energy shortages will unleash public unrest and international conflict.  The conference demonstrated that all environmental issues are connected and antagonised by each other and that therefore a holistic approach to their management is required.  Many at the conference advocated urgent action as the perfect storm is not just a likely future event but is beginning to occur right now,  particularly in relation to water, food and energy resources.

One of the highlights of the day was a talk given by the Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne.  The minister spoke confidently and passionately on the issue of climate change, stating that it was a clear and present danger. He used the examples of the 2000 UK floods, which damaged 10,000 homes and cost £1.3bn to the insurance industry and the 2003 European heatwave, in which thousands died to show that the storm is here.  The minister addressed the need for and the benefits of action on climate change.  Stating that  he remained confident that a global deal on carbon emissions will happen and stated that UK has already reduced its carbon emissions and will continue to make real progress in the future.

Despite the minister’s confidence in the current approach to tackling the ‘perfect storm’ being questioned by a number of the audience, I was struck by the minister’s passion and eloquence on the subject and was left looking forward to seeing the evidence of his confidence in future national and international environmental agreements and actions.

A transcript of the Minister’s speech can be found here http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/RGS_speech/RGS_speech.aspx

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About Alexandra Collins

I am a young researcher working at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. My current work is on the sustainable management of aquatic resources and ecosystems. I have a deep interest in this and a wide range of other environmental issues. I enjoy keeping up to date with environmental news, volunteering for a number of charities, swimming and making the most of life in London!
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