If the world allows climate responsibility and growth and development to become set against each other, the argument is lost from the start. The world has both the technology and the economic understanding to move forward strongly on both simultaneously. Indeed, if it fails on one, it fails on the other.
Leadership must come from the top and from heads of state. Actions on both mitigation and adaptation must look across the entire economy from cities to tax systems. Therefore, the problem of climate change is too wide to be relegated only to one or two individual government departments or ministries. Indeed, when it comes to making the global deal it must be the heads of governments who commit to action. Therefore, it is vital that united and decisive leadership is displayed by world leaders. The statements by presidents and prime ministers alike that the investment in this financial crisis should be around green technology are to be welcomed. Encouragingly, some stimulus investment packages announced to date, with notable examples of Korea and China, contain substantial sustainable investment measures. This suggests that greener, more sustainable growth is being recognized as the only type of growth for the 21st century.
Action is not led only from the top: it will be the individual understanding of citizens, of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and of communities that will drive forward this debate. It is striking, notwithstanding the economic crisis, that in national political debates around the world climate change is high on the agenda. This is now an electoral issue; people are pressing their leaders to act. The understanding and demands of members of the public are the most fundamental drivers of political change. It will be this voice that will carry us through to a more responsible future.
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