May 22 2013 Latest news:
Lord Deben, left, chairman of the Committee on Climate change, with Andy Wood, centre, and Mark Pendlington from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership at the Green Economy Conference at Wherstead Park
By Duncan Brodie
Thursday, March 7, 2013
RESPONDING to climate change has to become “a practicality of normal life” for business leaders, delegates at a major regional conference were told today.
And Lord Deben, who as John Gummer MP served as Environment Secretary and is now chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, warned that the move towards a low carbon economy was also necessary to protect the UK from rising gas prices in the future.
Lord Deben was delivering the keynote speech at the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Green Economy Conference, taking place at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich.
He told the audience of more than 200 delegates that the science behind climate change was “as sure as any science can be” and that those who styled themselves as climate change sceptics – who he preferred to call “climate change deniers” – were only sceptical about those facts which were inconvenient.
However, the need to decarbonise the UK’s electricity was unavoidable, for economic as well as environmental reasons.
Even with extensive use of fracking to extract shale gas, the price of gas in the United States was expected to double, and – for environmental and population density reasons – fracking was much less appropriate in the UK.
It would be “mad” for Britain not to protect itself against rising gas prices and “madder still” to become reliant on supplies from Russia.
Responding to the challenges of climate change needed to be regarded as “a practicality of normal life” for businesses, said Lord Gummer.
“You have to organise your businesses so that, in the normal course of business, you make the changes that are necessary,” he said. “Businesses have to be ahead of the curve. If you wait for regulation, if you wait for shortages, then you are not going to win.”
However, he cautioned that commercial and financial sustainability were just as vital as environmental sustainability.
“Your job in building businesses is to be ahead of the curve, but not so far that you do not make any money,” he added.
Climate change deniers argued that the changes required in switching to a low carbon economy were too expensive when, in fact, they represented the most cost effective way of meeeting the economic challenges of our time, said Lord Deben.
Claimate change was “the biggest threat but also the biggest opportunity that any generation has ever had”, he concluded.
Lord Deben’s address followed a welcoming speech by Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP, and a summary by Mark Pendlington, chairman of the LEP’s green economy pathfinder board, of the successes achieved since the launch of the partnership’s green economy “manifesto” 10 months ago.
Other speakers at the conference, which also involves workshop and networking sessions, are due to include Alan Knight, director of sustainability for Business in the Community, and Simon Bennett of East Anglian housing developer Greenright Homes.