Green activists: Climate event is a talking shop’

PUBLISHED: 10:01 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 25 August 2010

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have called the Copenhagen Climate Conference the most important meeting since the end of World War Two but are sceptical about what will be achieved.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have called the Copenhagen Climate Conference 'the most important meeting since the end of World War Two' but are sceptical about what will be achieved.

Members of Bromley and Bexley Friends of the Earth (FoE) groups are hoping leaders of the United Nations (UN) will ratify a global agreement to cut carbon emissions but are concerned the summit, held over the next fortnight, could become a talking shop.

Bromley FoE member Ray Watson said: "It's the most important conference since the end of the Second World War. But whatever the outcome of Copenhagen there is going to be a huge amount of work needed afterwards by local councils, industry and individuals to meet targets for cutting carbon emissions."

One of the items on the agenda will be the issue of carbon trading whereby large emitters of CO² can buy and sell their allocation of permitted emissions.

Mr Watson is critical of the idea. He said: "All it does is allow those with money to buy the right to keep polluting the planet. That is the sadness of it."

But UN officials insisted at the opening of the summit on Monday that a deal to bring global warming under control was well within range. Bexley FoE member Tim Waits said: "We need to stop consumerism but people aren't ready for that. Serious change is painful.

"Christmas is coming and what are we going to do? We're going to buy lots of plastic things which we don't need which is basically burning mountains of coal. All those things, the majority of which have been transported from China, will end up in the bin. It's not particularly pleasant. Other generations didn't want for much but now it's taken for granted, people think they need all these things.

"I'm sceptical about Copenhagen in terms of what will be achieved. Our economy is based on oil, we are held to ransom. Whatever they sign up to isn't going to be enough."

Green Party MEP for London, Jean Lambert, said: "I can understand that to some extent but the very fact that they have got to the point of having this conference means something. We may not get a legal agreement but it is already an improvement on where we were six months ago. It's going to take time.

"We're trying to bring big ideas and philosophies together. I'd still rather it was happening than it weren't.

"If all these countries decided they were going to stay at home that would be really frightening.

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