mercoledì 14 ottobre 2009

Thinking about Climate Change, by Dr Bristow-Smith, British Consul General Milan

All of a sudden, it seems that everyone is talking about climate change. It’s been there for years, but it is only now that people are starting to realise how important a subject it is; only now people starting to think that they might actually be able to do something about it by changing the way they live...

In many respects, that is the problem – making the connection between the problem and everyday life. It’s twelve years since the first big climate change summit in Kyoto. The Kyoto Protocol will actually expire in 2012. There is to be another huge conference dealing with climate change in Copenhagen later this year. For the British Government and for many other governments across Europe and throughout the world, climate change has become a major political problem.

But that’s the point. Most people would now accept that there is a problem; that if the Greenland ice cap melts, then London and New York are in serious trouble and Venice is a lost cause. But just how do you move from understanding the general idea to taking personal action?
I was amazed to read the other day that if you average out gas and electricity usage per person across the whole country, it means that each person is responsible for nearly three tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. And every car is responsible for something like one-and-a-half tonnes. Multiply that by the number of people in Italy – or the UK for a matter – and that is an awful lot of CO2. A low carbon economy suddenly seems like a very good idea indeed.

I’ve never been an activist (except possibly during the Vietnam War and that was a very long time ago). I’ve never really believed that scaring people makes them behave in a different way. But I admit that during this summer, having been subjected to articles in the newspapers, programmes on television and a certain amount of persuasion from members of the younger generation, climate change has risen quickly up my list of priorities, Perhaps it is time that we started to change our behaviour.

Dr Laurence Bristow-Smith
H M British Consul General
& Director General for Trade & Investment

Article appeared in Hello Milano. October issue, page 2

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