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World gears up for Copenhagen as climate change accelerates beyond expectations

2 December 2009
BGCI's Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, will be making a keynote speech on December 15th 2009 at the opening ceremony of the High Level part of the UNFCCC Climate Conference in Copenhagen.  This is the first day of the second week of the conference, when the Heads of State and Ministers participate.

The Prince will use this opportunity to highlight that the future of mankind can only be assured if a consensus is forged on how to integrate economic development with a real understanding of the ecological carrying capacity of the planet. This is the fundamental requirement of any solution to climate change and must be built on a public, private and NGO sector partnership. HRH will stress the urgent need to find a way to live as part of, rather then apart from, Nature.

The Copenhagen summit is widely regarded as the last chance to stop catastrophic global warming.  Without an international agreement to limit global warning, temperatures are likely to rise by at least 5 degrees Celsius (C) by the end of the century, triggering mass migration, warfare and hunger.
 
On December 7th, Professor Wangari Maathai, who has backed BGCI's campaign for urgent action to protect global plant diversity against the ravages of climate change, will talk about the huge groundswell of public support for world leaders to take effective action on climate change.  This will be followed by the handing over of a petition signed by 10 million people who expect a fair, ambitious and binding deal on climate change.  You can still sign the petition!
 
In a special report released last week called ‘The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 26 of the world's leading scientists, most of whom are authors of published IPCC reports, conclude that several important aspects of climate change are occurring at the high end or even beyond the expectations of only a few years ago. For example, the area of summer sea-ice melt during 2007-2009 was about 40% greater than the average projection from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.  Similarly, sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001. Without significant mitigation, the report says global mean warming could reach as high as 7C by 2100.


Elsewhere, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” 

Peter Ainsworth, UK MP and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment said; “The Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen will be seen by our children as a defining moment.  Will we, in this generation, have the courage to take the action at home and across the globe which is needed in order to ensure economic, social and environmental wellbeing?  This is not about saving the planet – the planet can look after itself – it’s about saving what passes for civilisation. I f we look for a single solution to the challenge of climate change, we will look in vain.  There are millions of solutions: in our homes; in the workplace; in government policies; and in emerging technologies and enterprise.  But beyond the complexity of all of that there remains the simple fact that if we continue to destroy the rainforests our other efforts will fail."

Botanic gardens can use their incredible outreach to educate people that climate change is a fact, a process already underway, not some sort of speculation or proposition of faith, and that it is possible to simultaneously transition to a low carbon economy and enhance our way of life.  Of course, plants are part of the solution in so many ways and we must be their advocates!

You can follow the Copenhagen debates via the UNFCCC website here

cedar of lbanon temperate forestbush willow

 



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