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'Climate change is our greatest challenge'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 04 December 2009

The prime minister has described climate change as "perhaps the greatest challenge that we face as a world" during a Q&A session with a group of young people ahead of the Copenhagen summit.

Copenhagen 2009: Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Environment Secretary Ed Miliband and UN Minister Baroness Kinnock answer questions on climate change from young people at the Natural History Museum in London on 4 December 2009.

Gordon Brown joined Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband and UN Minister Baroness Kinnock to answer questions from 16 to 25-year-olds just three days before the UN talks begin in Denmark. Here are some of the key quotes:

'GREATEST CHALLENGE'
The prime minister said the world is "only halfway there" in getting agreement on both intermediate targets and finance for the poorest countries.


Mr Brown said: "This is perhaps the greatest challenge that we face as a world. And this is the turning point that can either work for us or it can fail. This is one of the great human endeavours of our time - to bring the world together to deal with the problem that has been caused essentially by the richest countries but is now affecting some of the poorest countries in the world. If we do not act, all of us are going to be worse off as a result."

GREEN JOBS?
The panel was asked about the promise of "green jobs" for young people, on of the prime minister's pledges to deal with climate change.


Mr Brown responded: "What can become of our economy and how jobs can change, is really exciting. We've probably got about 8000 people employed in low carbon industries and services at the moment - doing everything from insulation to trying to produce the electric car. I think that number will go up by about 400,000 in the next year or two and that means 1.2m jobs in this area alone. We think there is a 4 trillion dollar world market for (green) goods."

WIND TURBINES
Ed Miliband was asked about what he is doing to enable planning applications for wind turbines to be processed quickly. A member of the audience said it had taken years to get permission at his school.


The Environment Secretary said: "We're going to map across the country the places where it's most appropriate to have wind turbines - where the wind blows strongest, where there's least danger to natural habitats - and try and persuade them (councils) to have that as a part of their planning. What we've had with lots of local councils is they say we're not going to have them anywhere. We just don't think that's an acceptable position."

HELPING ADAPT
The fear of future floods, in the UK and abroad, was raised several times. The issue of helping people in poorer countries adapt their economies to changing temperatures was set out by Baroness Kinnock.


She explained: "The uncertainty that climate change has caused means that people don't know what the seasons are any more. I was recently in Kenya, where a woman said I don't know when to plant, I don't know what to plant at what time, what is happening, why is this happening? I think what we can say in the UK is that we very much understand that the funding has to be there up front for those countries as soon as possible. It's not anything we can dodge. A substantial amount will go to the world's poorest economies in order for them to adapt."

COPENHAGEN HOPES
The panel were asked about the balance of power between developing nations and western countries, and how that could affect the outcome of the Copenhagen talks.

Ed Miliband said: "If we can find a way that the world genuinely cuts its emissions, it will help across the board. In terms of adapting, the big decisions need to be made not just by the developed countries."

Gordon Brown added: "This no longer one or two countries telling the rest of the world what to do. If we reach a decision at Copenhagen, all the countries of the world have got to come together.

"The world can no longer make its decisions by us saying we're going to pollute and it doesn't matter about the rest. Because so much more of the emissions will come from developing countries in future years, as they try to make a difference to the prosperity of their country, they have got to be directly involved in the decisions.


"Any decision has to got to have Africa's support and Asia's support and Latin America's support, as well as Europe and America."

The event at the Natural History Museum in London involved around 50 young people from organisations including ActionAid, the National Union of Students and the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

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