Mercury rising

01 July 2009 | News story

It seems fitting that IUCN’s headquarters are sizzling in 30oC heat as leading figures in politics, business, environment and philanthropy gather here to thrash out global priorities for tackling climate change.

IUCN’s President, Ashok Khosla opened the debate by reflecting on lessons learned during 60 years of environmental activism and how these can be used to steer the world onto a sustainable path.

The keynote address given by Jonathan Lash, President of the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute, comes just days after the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill aimed at capping and reducing US greenhouse gas emissions and lowering the country's dependence on foreign oil. Lash addressed the question of whether the US was now really committed to tackling climate change which of course generated some heated debate.

There followed a discussion about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations—what can make them derail and what can make them work. The afternoon is dedicated to discussions about climate change and biodiversity—can we fix one without the other?

The environmental community believes that mitigation and adaptation strategies that use nature can be efficient, economical and make ecosystems more resilient to change.

Other topics under scrutiny include how to balance the economic development and climate change agendas; how to avoid political paralysis due to scientific uncertainty; the role of valuing nature in building a new green economy and how to make the global transition to sustainable energy sources.