Opinion: Climate change – a final chance to act

Catherine Bearder MEP at the Wave climate march

So it has finally arrived, the first day of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit. We have been led to believe that it’s going to fail, then it’s going to succeed and then it will fail again, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. This has really tested the participating countries’ resolve to tackle this issue. This is made tougher because of the economic crisis which has caused hardships for so many people and so it’s understandable that the economy is at the front of people’s minds.

We know we have a clear choice even if some others want to continue down our current path of killing the planet. The Lib Dems laid out our green road to recovery this year and it is essential that we build environmental protection into all our policies, or we will not only fail the planet, but our supporters who have come to us because they share our commitment to the planet.

I was marching with the Green Lib Dems, the Liberal Youth and so many other LD members and friends on Saturday in London at The Wave. The LDs made a big noise (as my ears can attest to!) and were an important part of the 50,000 strong protest. Simon Hughes excelled himself by walking backwards most of the way with the megaphone in hand leading the chants.

I had only just arrived back from Angola where I had been as part of European delegation at the Inter parliamentary meeting with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries’ parliamentarians. We were working on our own motion to send to Copenhagen. The ACP countries are some of the poorest on the planet and they are feeling the effects of climate chaos disproportionately so it wasn’t hard to convince them what was necessary.

The message they wanted to send was that they need help if they are to develop sustainably. They need funding to catch up with technology, and not at the cost of the development aid. It has to be in addition. We were taken around housing and industrial developments in Angola that were being built using Chinese labour and creating huge debts for Angola, and yet there were no environmental technologies being used – all car based and using electricity created by oil. If Europe does not get its act together quickly then more of this type of ‘development’ will be done replacing the debts we have all just written off.

So my message to whoever is working in Copenhagen is: the world is watching and counting on you all. It’s not a question of if or when, but now and how. You cannot fail us now or you and the rest of the developed nations will not be forgiven.

Catherine Bearder is a Member of the European Parliament for the South East Region.

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