Climate change conference opens -Comment by Gordon Brown

7/12/2009 Guardian  We need to build a low carbon economy across the world, with a deal that helps developing nations and ensures trust.Throughout history human progress has arisen from the dream of achieving far-reaching change even when people have said it was beyond our grasp, and from the struggle to overcome obstacles even when they seem insurmountable.

Today we face a global challenge whose solution, for decades until now, has appeared beyond our reach – impossible, unaffordable and unworkable.

But catastrophic climate change is no more a matter of untameable fate than slavery, women's oppression, mass unemployment or nuclear war. And over the next two weeks we have the chance to come together, as a truly global community, to take the first decisive action needed to change its course.

And today, together with Norway and Australia, the UK is taking a further step to a Copenhagen agreement: publishing a framework for the long-term transfer of resources to meet the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries.

Let no one be in any doubt about the overwhelming scientific evidence that underpins the Copenhagen conference. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change brings together over 4,000 scientists from every corner of the world. Their recent work has sharpened, not diminished, the huge and diverse body of evidence of human-made global warming. Its landmark importance cannot be wished away by the theft of a few emails from one university research centre. On the contrary, the pernicious anti-scientific backlash that the emails have unleashed has exposed just what is at stake.

The purpose of the climate change deniers' campaign is clear, and the timing no coincidence. It is designed to destabilise and undermine the efforts of the countries gathering in Copenhagen today.

And the reason is that – if we can summon the political will to secure the ambitious agreement we need – Copenhagen is poised to achieve a profound historical transformation: reversing the road we have travelled for 200 years.

Over that time we have based our prosperity on burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Now we need to create wealth and quality of life, not by putting carbon into the atmosphere but by taking it out. We need to build, in short, a low carbon economy. And not just at home: our aim must be to do this in every major economy of the world.

This will involve change: a shift from the energy dictatorship of oil and traditional fossil fuels to the efficiency, self-reliance and security of low carbon energy systems, which will be the engine of growth and job creation over the coming decade.

Inevitably, as with every great project of social and economic progress in the global and public interest, there will be vested interests who seek to oppose it. And so I will take on with evidence, argument and moral passion all the anti-science …

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