Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Carbon Trust Winter Lecture (Jan08)

Putin apparently joked that ‘climate change is good for Russians because they won’t have to wear fur coats’. But listening to Dr Pachauri, Chairman of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) wasn’t very funny. His Winter Lecture, hosted by the Carbon Trust, was held, rather incongruously at Claridges.

The theme was ‘business response to climate change’ but the world’s leading climate guru started with some pretty gruesome facts about melting glaciers, sea level rise and mass extinction. Eleven out of the past twelve years have apparently been the hottest on record and the minimum predicted temperature rise of 1.8C will have an enormous impact on our world.

For those businesses listening there was a call to action. Apparently apart from trying to slow down the rate of climate change, there’s quite a lot to do in terms of adapting to what’s coming. Such as protecting ourselves from rising sea-levels, preventing water scarcity, improving our preparedness for disaster and scaling up our health care.

If you couldn’t hear what was being said in the room, you could never have imagined that such a gloomy forecast was being presented. It occurs to me that those of us aware of what’s happening can do little more than watch in horror, whilst the rest of the world goes about business as usual. Dr Pachauri seemed to have a similar view. He had apparently pointed out to the Indian Prime Minister that the rise of Western-style shopping malls in their country was disastrous. But whether it’s shopping malls, cars, flights or power stations there’s a growing demand and nothing that’s going to stop it.

After the lecture I took the train back down to Somerset – and went out to play bridge with some friends. They had a lovely open fire, warm lights blazing throughout the house and an old fuel hungry aga in the kitchen. It was another world. But will it be one that’s acceptable, affordable or available in 20 years time? Perhaps it’ll be on a par with wearing a tiger skin fur coat today – in the UK, rather than Russia….

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