Thursday, January 15, 2009

Climate change in 2009: the defining issue

In an open letter, Tom Burke argues that the more immediate should not obscure the more urgent. Climate change must be at the forefront of the international agenda in 2009.

15 - 01 - 2009

My dear friends,

I am writing this letter to you because today is arguably the first day of the most important year in human history. I dislike the grandiose so the previous sentence was written reluctantly. Ideas do not seek permission before they enter your mind and they are not always the most welcome of guests.

The idea that this is the most important year in human history has been haunting me since yesterday. It was prompted by an article in the Financial Times in which the paper's columnists made predictions about the most important issues facing the world in 2009. Bravely, they passed judgement on the likelihood of everything from an early election in the United Kingdom (no) to the bombing of Iran; from the price of oil (higher) to the fall of Mugabe.

But it was what they did not say that really caught my attention. This was much reinforced by a cartoon in today's Guardian in which he pictured a rather cheerful looking Mr Earth holding an Obama balloon. Round his ankles were tied three balls and chain labelled "War", "Recession" and "Climate Change". The Financial Times dealt well with two of them. But it had nothing to say about climate change. More >>>

Tom Burke is a Founding Director of E3G, an Environmental Policy Adviser to Rio Tinto plc and a Visiting Professor at Imperial and University Colleges, London.