Here is a selection of comments made during the plenary panel discussions. Please note the speeches available for download in PDF from some of these participants:
Prem Shankar Jha : India, author, columnist
We are sitting on a time bomb – abrupt climate change. At a certain point the factors behind global warming become self-reinforcing and then you cannot stop the process even if you bring down carbon emissions to zero. The algae in the sea capture two thirds of the carbon dioxide that the earth is capable of capturing, while the icecaps reflect 90% of the heat which strikes them. Analysis suggests that the tipping point for both icecaps melting and the algae in the sea dying is a temperature rise of three degrees, though it may be less. We cannot look to future technologies to prevent this. We need to reappraise current technologies in the new circumstances of cost, returns and the alternatives that we face today. <Download his speech>
Robert Glasser : Australia, Secretary-General, CARE International
Wealthy countries have strong resources to deal with changes in climate variability. The one billion who live in absolute poverty do not. They are enormously resilient and resourceful. But they, who are the least responsible for the problem, are going to suffer the greatest consequences. <Download his speech>
Jennifer Helgeson : USA, Environmental economist, Grantham Centre for Climate Research, London School of Economics
The IPCC estimates that 85% of the finance needed to respond to climate change will need to come from private investors. Copenhagen needs to convince the world that the private and public sectors will work together. Hurricane Katrina showed that even in developed nations, we have people too poor to deal with the effects of climate change. Some insurers are considering starting micro-insurance schemes for the disadvantaged in both developed and developing nations. This could strengthen their resilience and enable them to cope better with crisis. <Download her speech>
Philip Herzog : France, President of civic movement Confrontations Europe
If we are to cope with these huge changes in our way of life, we need to start making massive changes in urban planning. This depends on financing. Using pension funds and insurance funds for these purposes will prove a valuable investment in the future.
Marco Keiner : Switzerland, Chair, UN Environment and Security Initiative
The processes developed by the Copenhagen climate change conference must include managing the unavoidable – enabling climate refugees to survive. Most of the developing world’s mega-cities are located at sea level. Many of their inhabitants will need to be accommodated by the countries which have caused this mess. Europe needs millions of workers to balance our continent’s demographic change. <Download his speech>
Chad Briggs : USA, Senior Fellow, Institute for Environmental Security
A stable environment is crucial for maintaining food and energy security. It is now changing much more quickly than expected. We can’t wait for droughts to occur, for people to start migrating, for people to lose their sense of cooperation. We can create win-win situations. We can create communities which don’t have to rely on cars for transportation, where people know their neighbours, in which they enjoy increased real estate values, and lower stress. <Download his speech>
Geoffrey Lean : UK, Award-winning pioneer of environmental journalism
We have 10 years to turn the situation around. We can do it. Renewable energy offers the biggest economic opportunity of the century. Last year 155 billion dollars was spent on renewables while only 110 billion was spent on fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – and nuclear combined. <Download his speech>
‘It can’t be fair that we Europeans are 5% of the world’s population and produce 24% of the world’s carbon emissions,’ said Felix Finkbeiner, aged 11, from Germany, (above) who has set up Plant for the Planet, now active in 20 countries.
Ruthie Gopin, aged 13, from the USA, has set up Carbon-Free Kids which is enlisting teenagers in action to overcome global warming.