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Stackyard News Jul 06

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English Champions at Major Climate Change Youth Summit

Two of the English climate change champions will today join Environment Minister Ian Pearson to speak at a major youth summit on climate change.

wind turbines

Lucy Stansfield, climate change champion for the South West and Carri Swann, representing the East Midlands, will speak alongside Mr Pearson at the four-day Summit, being held at the Natural History Museum. The champions will also meet seven Chinese environment ambassadors, who are attending the Summit.

Mr Pearson said it was important for the UK to help build an international consensus to draw up a long-term goal to stabilise emissions that caused climate change. He added that it was vital that all countries – including the US, China and India – also agreed to an international framework of action to move to a global low-carbon economy.

During his speech, Mr Pearson highlighted the future impacts rising temperatures caused by climate change would have on the world. These included:

  • Coastal wetlands threatened by sea level rises
  • Coral reefs damaged by rising ocean temperatures
  • Large effects on biodiversity, such as polar bears and golden toads
  • Millions of people at risk from increased coastal flooding
  • Pressure on food and water resources
  • Changes in distribution of insect-borne diseases, such as malaria
  • Poorest countries being hit hardest by climate changes with Africa likely to lose four per cent of GDP for each 1C rise.

Mr Pearson said the UK was determined to meet both its Kyoto and domestic climate change targets. The UK is currently on track to almost double its 12.5 per cent Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas levels by 2008-2012 from 1990 levels.

“This week's Energy Review announcement will help us substantially in our long-term domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 60 per cent from current levels by 2050.

“But we need everyone to play their part. Our new Climate Change Communications Initiative is designed to change public attitudes towards climate change, at grass-roots, local and regional levels and I am delighted that the Natural History Museum and the British Council have come together to hold this vital young people's Summit on climate change. Together this generation will tackle climate change,” he added.

Mr Pearson highlighted the role of the nine English climate change champions, who later this month, will travel by train to Switzerland to see at first hand the effects of climate change on Swiss glaciers.

Ms Stansfield, who produced a climate change video as her entry to the Climate Change Champions competition, said that unless action was taken now, the world would look a very different place.

She said that too many young people felt that climate change was still years away or that it was happening elsewhere and would only mean melting ice caps and hotter summers.

“ I am here to tell you that it does matter. If we don't act now, this glorious world will not exist as we know it. Instead, low-lying land will disappear under the rising sea and fertile land will turn into desert.

“Our homes contribute 30 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions – so we are all responsible. But it is surprisingly easy to make a difference and often its just a case of common sense.

“My challenge to you is simple - it is to not only talk about climate change but to do something about it – so that you can prove that young people of the UK are working together to tackle climate change,” she added.

Ms Swann, who wrote a newspaper article about why teenagers in the UK are not interested in climate change for her competition entry, said young people had a massive opportunity to make a real difference.

“We have the energy, unbiased and fresh perspectives, and the creativity and a clarity of thinking which challenges, and often exasperates, older generations. Teenagers are, with these advantages, in a better position to tackle climate change than many other groups of people.

“Our work will have an effect not only on climate change itself, but also on others perceptions of it, by making the issue interesting, less confusing and easier to get involved with. We can help people understand connections between climate change and their everyday lives. The collective efforts of millions of young people can and will make an enormous impact. We just need to get the balling rolling,” she said.

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