Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director

The race to mitigate climate change is not just about preserving the environment, it's also about security. The security in knowing that our homes are safe, that we have enough food to eat, and that our water is drinkable. The security in knowing that crops will grow, and that there will still be fish in the sea. The security also that comes with caring for our neighbours - and knowing that they too have food to eat. Because our changing climate is changing more than just the weather, it is changing the way we live.

Inhabitants of small islands are watching their coastlines disappear. Weather changes are affecting plant life, and the diets of the animals and humans who eat those plants. Diminishing water reserves are creating strife between and within countries, causing some populations to migrate. Clearly, relatively minor changes in global temperature have major implications in many aspects of our lives.

Much of the pollution that is behind the causes of climate change is related either directly or indirectly to energy use. But we can't just turn off the switch - energy access is essential to growth and prosperity. If modern society is dependent on abundant energy sources, and if using those sources threatens the planet's future, what kind of future are we looking at? Renewable and sustainable energy resources are not only essential to stabilizing global climate, but also to securing lasting energy resources and energy uses for the millennia to come.

Among other issues, certain energy sources, like fossil fuels, may soon run out. Our dependence on fossil fuels is not only affecting our atmosphere, but it is also destabilizing entire regions. As oil reserves dwindle, competition increases, as does the threat of price wars, and even real wars, over what's left. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the race to find new oil reserves will be a short one. Energy security will become an increasingly important issue, both for the planet and for our own well-being.

This timely publication addresses the multifaceted character of climate change, where each separate element affects other elements, much like the environment itself. Each chapter looks at climate change and energy insecurity from a different angle, be it energy options, economic changes, biodiversity issues, or many others. It also addresses an important question: how are we going to clean up the mess? What kind of international agreement can be achieved? What kind of frameworks work? Hopefully, the answers to at least some of these questions will be found in Copenhagen in December 2009 as governments meet to seal a new climate deal. This is our chance to move forward towards ensuring that both our climate and our energy sources are as secure as the ground beneath our feet.

Achim Steiner United Nations Under Secretary General United National Environment Programme Executive Director

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