Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Climate change: What price will future generations pay?

Lord David Puttnam (Image: PA)
VIEWPOINT
Lord David Puttnam

Climate change poses a huge barrier to a fulfilling future, argues Lord Puttnam, an ambassador for Unicef UK. In this week's Green Room, he asks what price children will have to pay for three or four carbon-happy generations?

A child holds its hand under a water tap (Getty Images)
Our children and those as yet unborn deserve to live in a world that is healthier, more equitable and which offers a sustainable future

When world leaders sit round the table in Copenhagen next month to try and tackle what has become possibly the greatest moral crisis of my generation, a unique responsibility rests on their shoulders as they try to decide what kind of world future generations will inherit.

What price will children have to pay for the three or four carbon-happy generations that have lived before them?

The prognosis is not good. In the past month alone, the world has been shaken by a series of disasters, such as typhoons and floods in the Philippines.

With weather-related disasters predicted to only increase in severity and frequency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses the grave consequences others will face if we continue down the high emissions pathway we appear to have chosen - increased child poverty, inequity and death.

Carrying capacity

There is no doubt that my generation has uniquely contributed to this increasing chaos, and the burden my grandchildren and those of others will have to carry because of it.

What is less clear, however, is what price today's decision makers will place on the well-being of future generations when carving out their response to climate change.

Children look at a model of projected sea level rise (Getty Images)
We must stop borrowing from the future and act now, with world leaders putting the rights and needs of children at the core of the climate change policy framework

A new paper released by Unicef UK - Climate Change, Child's Rights and Intergenerational Justice - makes it clear that their responsibility is huge, particularly when it comes to protecting the rights and future well-being of children.

Climate change is not just an environmental problem, it is a human rights issue. In fact it's the biggest child rights problem of our time.

With the potential rise of up to 160,000 child deaths a year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia directly resulting from climate change, it is children, the most vulnerable children, who will be caught at the centre of the storm.

They will unquestionably carry the greatest burden - both as children and as future adults - and yet they are the least culpable for its damage.

Unicef UK and the Children in a Changing Climate coalition have been working tirelessly to put intergenerational justice and child rights on to the climate change agenda.

Fair play

World leaders are increasingly beginning to reference this in their speeches; President Obama, in his first address to the UN, acknowledged that we "risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe" if we fail to respond today.

But despite this, the idea of ensuring justice between those generations responsible for the effects of climate change and those who will have to pay the heaviest price for it, is still not being adequately reflected in climate change policy, with world leaders instead choosing to focus only on solutions that can accommodate their short-term national interests.

Cyclist cycling in smog, China (Getty Images)
Our children and those as yet unborn deserve to live in a world that is healthier, more equitable and which offers a sustainable future

But as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, Unicef UK is urgently pushing for the rights of the child along with those of future generations to be acknowledged in the UN climate change negotiations. Not as a cursory afterthought, but as being central to all negotiations and policy making decisions.

Failure to do so will leave an indelible mark on whether the rights of the child, which have been enshrined in the UN CRC for two decades and have been ratified by 193 countries, will ever be realised.

All signatories to the CRC have a legal and moral duty to remove any barriers which could prevent children from fulfilling the rights they were born with, no matter where in the world they live.

Climate change poses a huge barrier to a fulfilling future. Before it becomes an insurmountable one, global leaders must seize the opportunity Copenhagen offers, and acknowledge their obligation to children by putting them at the heart of the global response.

So what exactly does this mean? It means that the implications of climate change for children must be at the top of the agenda at Copenhagen, and that the voices and opinions of children and young people are heard, respected and represented - a key right as outlined in the CRC.

The youth delegates being granted official recognition in Copenhagen are a welcome and crucial step forward in ensuring this happens, but more needs to be done to embed children into the core of the outcome of negotiations.

At a global and national level, climate change responses must focus on long-term sustainable solutions to ensure the well-being and needs of future generations are met. This means minimising the impact on future generations caused by the current level of CO2 emissions from the industrialised world.

So we must stop borrowing from the future and act now, with world leaders putting the rights and needs of children at the core of the climate change policy framework.

Our children and those as yet unborn deserve to live in a world that is healthier, more equitable and which offers a sustainable future - exactly the type of world we ourselves would want to live in. Copenhagen offers the opportunity to ensure that happens; we must grab it, before it is too late.

Lord David Puttnam is an ambassador for Unicef UK

The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website


Do you agree with Lord Puttnam? Will climate change act as a barrier that prevents future generations reaching their full potential? Are world leaders obliged to act under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Yes I wish the best possible future for my 2 year old son. For this reason I shall be glad when this baseless obsession with the mythical hot air affect finally becomes just another one of history's great follies which he and his generation can rightfully laugh at us for taking so seriously.
Children will have a far brighter future in a world not artificially impoverished with wealth concentrating scams like ETS or needlessly denied reliable energy.
As for the existing 3rd world impoverishment, the solutions are easy: 1. eliminate corruption, which is certainly not aided by debt relief scemes of the like championed by Bono and Bob (since it gives tacit consent to the leaders of wealthy nations like Nigeria to continue to plunder their own people's future), nor the sort of clap-trap treaty evidently sough at the upcoming Copenhangen press junket; 2. population control - famine is nature's way of telling you there are too many people in a given area of marginal agricultural potential.
Climate change or whatever it is called next year is something we all better get used to adapting to; it is natural variation, always has been and always will be. We as a species are conceited to even consider the possibility that we may control climate to suit a few egos.
A warmer climate will be beneficial to humanity not detrimental, as will an increase atmospheric CO2 (which is essential to the functioning of the biosphere and hydrosphere).
If any bleating bloggers would take the time to read impartial science instead of listening to sensational headlines, you would arrive at the same conclusions I have. You may then concetrate your energy planning and preparing for your children's future instead of wasting time crying about 'saving the world' from ghosts but actually doing nothing at all to back up your stated convictions.
This behaviour is called 'slacktivism'.
Ben Hern, Stavanger, Norway

good article! pointing out that this is not only a question of environment, but also a child rights issue.
we cannot continue to take so much for granted, we must deattach ourselves from our comfortable lives and realise the damage we are causing, we are living on other peoples expense, i think that is what most people dont see, or perhaps avoiding to see.
the well being of fellow humans should be more important than whatever else there is, start thinking more globaly rather than how luxurious your own life is, treat others the way youself want to be treated.
Jörgen, Strängnäs, Sweden

Lord Puttnam is absolutely right. We should be thinking of future generations, but we don't. I am deeply concerned about the future for my three teenage children and their possible future offspring. The reality is that if CO2 emissions do not level off within five years then we are almost certainly destined for a six degree temperature increase, run-away climate change, ecosystem collapse and a mass-extinction event. FIVE YEARS!!! Instead of taking action on this problem what are we doing? We are fighting wars all over the world, planning the next Olympic games, carbon-trading, bailing-out the bankers, worshiping consumerism, developing more weapons, flying, planning the next election, having everything on stand-by, creating super-states, getting drunk, committing crimes, plundering finite physical resources, having more unplanned and unwanted children, praying to the gods of economic growth and having Climate-Change Conferences. In other words: business as usual. FIVE YEARS!!!!! Wake up everyone, wake up Governments, there is a BIG problem and it is not going away, it has no respect for empty promises, targets and resolutions.
John Lilley, Kings Langley, UK

I am mearly a 16 year old boy, but i take climate change very seriously. if the problems with the world continue as they are, or get worse from lack of accepting that what is happening is BAD! me, and all my friends, in fact, perhaps everyone in my college may not get to achieve their full potential, if the flooding increases, places for homes will decrease, hurricanes and tornados will destroy miles upon miles of agriculture, citys and the lives of millions of people, some of whome are not even born yet. if the people of my generation and those of the younger ones have any hope to actually HAVE a future, people and governments MUST realise the danger ahead of them and do somthing about it, rather than bickering about weather it is or is not going to happen, isnt it better to take the risk to improve the future of Millions of people rather than to just accept it is going to happen and nothing can be done about it, or its not going to happen, so we can just keep going as we are.
sorry, i went on a bit of a rant there. but basically, YES! climate change will act as a barrier for ALL races of people. for the human race to continue succesfully and not cower in the dark at its own undoing, somthing must be done.
Jonathan Steel, Taunton, Somerset, England.

Yes. "The energy supply is the greatest contributor to man-made global warming". If everyone would reduce the use of energy. For example, use the public transport, environmentally-friendly use the house heater in winter and aircondition in summer. We might give less burden to our children. I think parents have the responsibility to do this for children and teach children to do this as well.
Shuoyang, Guangzhou, China

Protecting the rights of future generations is central to ensuring the success of actions to protect the Earth we all share.
The imagination of youth should not be dismissed lightly. The power to change the future comes from both insights gained from the past and a willingness to adopt new ideas. Hope for the future is crucial for future generations.. This is what needs to happen. The imagination of youth could be enhanced by making it so they can have fun while at the same time putting up speed bumps here and there to hindering those things that hurt. Subtle things designed to change the direction of both industry and society at large.. Playing with fun things like making bikes and adapting unique uses of electrics to them could be enhanced and the world could gain great satisfaction by setting about melting down guns and stuff like that as long as people knew they can be safe. It's a matter of trust and confidence every parent should try to enhance.. Investments could be made to health care as a human right instead of a money making venture. The world could invest in buy back schemes for weapons and things like illicit drugs and it could build up those things that support the common good. Copenhagen can install a new respect for the need to change and the world can benefit in ways it can only imagine if children are put first.
The whole world should take a moment to walk in a forest or another place where they can experience nature and think about what it means for the future of generations before the crucial meeting in Copenhagen.
Dale Lanan, Longmont, Colorado, USA

I am completely agreed with this writer. Lord David Puttnam has presented a nice article in right time. Definitely climate change act as a barrier that prevents future generations reaching their full potential. People of the world are thinking what is to be happened in Copenhagen climate summit and their expectations are more from the conference. If the climate change crisis could not be tackle in this moment then, our future generation will be disabling. A lot of world leader will be gathered and they should sign a global climate change agreement which is very necessary in Copenhagen summit. So that we can limit the negative man-made effects on the climate system for future generations. We know that the atmospheric concentrations of man-made emissions have increased precipitously in recent decades, and that global warming is happening significantly faster than previously. A series of earthquake is going on in the world and people of the world as south Asia is under threat of natural disaster like cyclones, droughts and floods. Heat related illness, diseases and economic losses are the common phenomenon. We hope that the world's richest nations must agree to substantially slash their emissions between 2012 and 2016 and agree a comprehensive finance and technology package to allow developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Engr Salam, Kushtia,Bangladesh

the criminality here is in virtually every government. almost without exception they encourage population growth. the problem is not the way industry works or a fault of evil western consumerism. governments are just legal mafias and they need ever more people to pay protection taxes and to recruit army thugs from. They are padding their own pockets and protecting their turf from rival gangs in neighbouring countries. sounds like mafia motives to me.
buzzz, simcoe, ontario, canada

I am a teacher and I do worry about the future of the children I teach and the children of those children- we teach them about climate change and the effects it will have and we try to encourage them to cut down their useage of electricity and to reuse and become less consuming. We tell them it is important for their future - and yes it is - why not try? Why do some say "well we cant reverse the effects so lets not bother?" What makes these people so thoughtless and greedy? It reminds me of the story we teach them of a school group who were taken on residential trip. For the first 4 days the children were greedy whenever they went for dinner they filled their plates and many threw food away as they could not eat it all. On day 5 there was less food available because the children had been so greedy- the children were warned that if they took too much some at the end of the line would not have enough- yet still these first few children were greedy, the last few had no food to eat because those greedy few at the begining of the line were so used to lots of food that they didnt want to reduce their intake and share. This to me is very much what is happeneing today. I don't think the issue is 'who has access to electricity' for we humans can survive without- it is clean water and food that we need.
Worried, Bridgnorth, UK

It's absolutely important to act, and not least to educate the citizens of our countries as to the realities. There are far too many people who are ignorant of the science-- which given the complexity is understandable. I've even had people (yes, more than one) try to tell me that anthropogenic climate change is some sort of ploy by governments to control people. In western democracies it is crucial that the electorate be informed and able to understand the importance of these issues. The BBC needs to take a more critical role in that as well, not merely reporting claims without substantiating them.
Simon, London

The thing that astonishes me most in this whole debate is the arrogance of those who consider "global warming" to be some sort of hoax or lie. There is no doubt whatever that the world is warming up - the evidence is there for all to see. The only doubt is the extent to which human activity is responsible for it. As an eminent scientist said on television recently "at the present time we cannot find any explanation for the greater part of current warming other than human activity". This does not mean that there is no other explanation - it just cannot be found. Other possible explanations have been put forward and have not stood the test of peer review. To suggest some sort of scientific conspiracy is ludicrous. The vast majority of scientists are agreed on what is happening and the only conspiracies have been on the "no warming" side of the fence. This being so it would be very foolish and irresponsible of humanity not to take note and start taking precautionary measures. It is, with the greatest respect, totally useless to produce such stupid arguments as "the rich western countries have had their turn at exploiting the world's resources and now it is our turn". It does not matter what has been done in the past or whose "turn" it is. The only things that matter are the future of our species and its civilisation and the future of the other species on the planet and if this means that a lot of ambitions, such as bringing the rest of the world up to western standards of living, have to be abandonded, then I am afraid that is that. And let us remember that global warming is not the only serious problem. In the long term depletion of minerals of food, oil water and other essentials is equally critical. The fact is that you cannot blame the past. When I, and a few others in my small circle, started talking of these problems 30 years ago we were looked on as idiots - the world was huge and would never rung out of resources. Now that we know better we have to start being responsible and the first thing we have to do is to stop the expansion in the population and then set about reducing it. The main cause of all these problems, global warming included is that we have been, with help of modern science, simply too successful at reproducing ourselves and never stopped to question whether this was a good thing or not. We may well find in the future that the world can either support a much smaller population than today's or none at all.
Dudley Dean, Maresfield UK

Unfortunately Politicians have hijacked "Global Warming" which is now a massive revenue generator for Governments, there is no thought at all by them towards stopping or slowing down so called carbon emissions, If the evidence was solid, there would be no argument. But as many know, the evidence is at best circumstantial, Politicians and the business world are generating billions at the expense of the general public, who are actually being lied to. The earth has warmed & cooled many times in the past, this is a continual cycle, what Governments are attempting is to alter nature just to feed their greedy pockets & all at our expense. As you see, the latest banner to be used in this massive con trick is "the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?" an emotive title, designed to generate emotional blackmail, just another slogan & empty project.
Bob Hunt, Northampton

I think its insane people don't act already to the changes that is happening now with that said i don't believe that anything will come out of the Copenhagen climate summit
Daniel Tronborg, Copenhagen Denmark

I'm happy that some people start recognising the gigantic task ahead if we are to save the world. Unfortunately greed rules our modern world and I have no illusions whatsoever that we will succeed. It will happen because we have no other choice , in other words WHEN ITS TOO LATE. Billions will die, the rich will buy their way out and anarchy and a new modern DARK middle age will reappear. Very simply put we can buy and make a Ferrari for 250K, but for a rare whale which is almost extinct no one wants to pay 250K, once an animal species is gone, no money in the world can buy it. And every minute some living organism dies and disappears for ever. Biodiversity is the key to life, currently we allready lost 3 million lifevorms in the last 10 years. Like everyhting there is a critical mass and once this reached.......... But it will have to be a collective effort, and I only see it happening if we move away from capitalism. Change only happens when things are really bad, so it will take another 20-30 years of polluting to eventually get there. Despairing isn't it .......
benny glass, antwerp belgium

"Our children and those as yet unborn deserve to live in a world that is healthier, more equitable and which offers a sustainable future - exactly the type of world we ourselves would want to live in." Tell that to the rich and those who have more than two children!!
Crowcatcher, Shropshire

Well, I am completely agreed with this writer. Lord David Puttnam has presented a nice article in nice time. People of the world are thinking what is to be happened in Copenhagen climate summit and their expectations are more from the conference. If the climate change crisis could not be tackle in this moment then, our future generation will be disabling in all respects. So, this is the time to do better solution of this vulnerable situation. People would like to see that Copenhagen summit will not be only table talk; it would be the execution of their agenda. We know a series of earthquake is going on in the world and people of the south Asia is under threat of natural disaster like cyclones, droughts and floods. Heat related illness, diseases and economic losses are the common phenomenon in this region. We hope the Copenhagen summit will present a green planet for our future generation. To build up this green world the journey should be begun from Copenhagen as soon as possible.
Engr Salam, Kushtia, Bangladesh.

The resultant evil challenges due to CO2 emission from our current generation is not just endangering prospers of future generation but also deeply hurting every single nation today - UK Flood, US Typhoons and others. If only those benefitting from CO2 emission could tell the World truth then, our World would certainly be a better for current and future generation.Truth at Copengahan is the way forward.
Clement Uchendu, Maiduguri, Nigeria

I agree completely with Lord Puttnam's position and conclusions. Indeed, I reason that the question, "Will climate change act as a barrier that prevents future generations reaching their full potential?" does not speak strongly enough. Our generation's present course regarding climate change, if not drastically altered, threatens their very survival.
John C. Twombly, Boulder, Colorado, USA

To control the damage caused by the recent exposure of the global warming hoax this article will not do. The trickery got to get much more sophisticated or the public more stupid. The article uses the old worn out political trick of emotions (tear jerkers) and children as pawns. It is a reminder of the dishonest "save the earth" propaganda movies and adds by the warmists. The fat income of our World Leaders needs to be donated first. If those leaders feel so strongly than let them use their own money. It is dishonest to pretend generousity and good deeds with money stolen from sombody else! As to the children having a right, I say Yes. They have the right that every child in this world has. The parents take care of them. So, don't look at me because I keep my legs crossed because I can't afford children. But no, the world leaders are all bent to create an dependent world-underclass. Sounds to me like a vote buying scheme for the WORLD Presidency by the enlightened elite who believe in Darwin. So put your money where your mout is: Let nature including the climate take its course. We cannot stop sex nor the wobbling of our earth's axis no matter how much money we throw at it! The notion "but we try" is no longer a justification for waste. However, if it is important to you to do good and feel good do what the religion and not what the government tells you to do!
Werner Strasser, Versailles KY, USA

climate change induced flooding and drought affects food security and health of the poor hardest. the biggest contribute
kwaku minka fordjour, nsawam

With the potential rise of up to 160,000 child deaths a year you possibly ignore the many millions of preventable child deaths that are occuring every year.
The billions/trillions of dollars intended to go into this 'potential' future problem could have an immediate affect on real lives today if there was the commitment to value them.
Future generations need development to realise their potential after all with resourses you can make the most from a changed world. They do not need to be dragged down by the idea that humanity is a parasite on this planet.
HR,

The rights of our grandchildrens children to inherit a safe, clean, nurturing and sustainable environment are intrinsically linked to all levels of leadership and governance. Wether that be decisions, inactions and actions made by global/industrial or domestic corporations, or policies and laws inacted upon by world Governments. The future generations of all, must be taken into account and adequately considered before any actions in this generation are carried out. This way of 'thinking forward' needs to be imbedded in our dealings with all issues that affect Earths productivity and sustainability. We need effective 'thinking forward' models within our education systems, legal systems, health systems, social institutions. Most of all we need 'thinking forward' mentalities and policies within our economical and political systems and structures.
This is the only way that our childrens rights to sustainable and healthy lives can be addressed and actively sustained.
Many children still have their rights denied to access and drink clean water, safe fertile soils, safe and adequate food, safe and adequate shelter, to grow in loving and nurturing environments. Often a childs right to live and benefit from the nurishing sustanance provided from their land is ignored by peoples motivated by imediate monetary advantage rather than the future sustainable health and well being for all peoples and life.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Children needs to act to ensure that all leaders and Governments are obligated under Law to consider and ensure Present and Future rights, equally, of all children are factored into, and protected in all and every decision, policy, inaction or action enacted.
Aquillion Venables, Bonalbo 2469, Australia

Yes, I do agree. In fact, I am thrilled that one of "us", from the North, is putting it so bluntly. I believe it is high time that people in our hemisphere, living in utter luxury compared to anything the world has ever seen before, realize what we are doing to other human beings.(The movie "Darwin's Nightmare" comes to my mind here, for instance.) Everyone, but really everyone, expresses joy when watching children. Whenever you meet someone new and you talk about private matters, one of the first questions that come up is whether one has kids. One would really think that they seriously care about them. Unfortunately, their actions tell a very different story. And, just as importantly, the children of today are the "people" of tomorrow. When a plane crashes or there is a car accident, we mourn over one, two, three or 150 victims. When you look at the number of people killed or to be killed by "our daily actions" (Whole islands in the Pacific disappear already due to the rise of the sea level and their inhabitants lose their homes forever. And what is going to happen to the millions living in Bangladesh forcasted to be flooded if the sea level keeps rising?), you wonder whether they really care. Or is it ignorance? It can't be in the case of anyone with a TV or access to the internet. Thank you for bringing these issues to the world's attention!
Reinhard Adolf, Yokohama, Japan

Lord David Puttnam's views are of no consequence. He hasn't a clue about the physics of climate. He, like the majority of GW'ers, is simply reiterating what a dozen or so fanatics have told him. This whole GW fiasco is a giant storm in a tiny teacup. Let's get some really unbiased scientists together and get a truly rational appraisal. The leader of this cadre should be Dr Bob Carter of Cook university in Austrailia.
Lenedwin, Seattle/ USA

I have a 9-year-old daughter. She, and her peers, are very aware of actions that may affect the environment.She is encouraged, by ward office(local council) pamphlets, and at school, to be vigilant regarding recycling objectives,power saving measures in everyday life,water conservation and so on. She, and her friends and peers take this seriously. Then she is confronted with chain-smoking adults who seem to be ignoring all the community-oriented directives.She is confronted by piles of garbage where it is obvious that recycling measures have been ignored. She finds it difficult to understand that in her (child`s) world, where what adults say and do is assumed to be the rule that she and the other kids should follow, the "exemplars" are still the ones to whom rules do not apply. The hypocrisy of adults, who for whatever reasons think that the rules or ideas of today do not apply to them is tantamount to saying that they do not care in any wider sense about their childrens' futures.
Caring for the environment is not a school project, to be viewed with some detachment. It is an imperative. We should not be letting our children down at this point - the knowledge, the information and the consequences are well publicised. What was OK for previous generations, mainly due to lack of knowledge(no-one`s fault?) is not something we can afford to repeat. Stand by your kids, folks - they are strong and dedicated people, and the future(if we allow it to be) is theirs.
siobhan, tokyo

Yes, I do agree -- and I thank you for publishing this document. In fact, I particularly commend BBC for all the effort you put into this subject matter. nothing today is more important -- and yes, it is a rights issue, very much so.
Maria Ashot, London, UK

Climate change will hurt future genrations businesses because many businesses rely on the environment. Climate change will also cause all sorts of new dieases, syndromes and allergies. I myself did not have my nasal and heat allergies until I was exposed to heavy pollution. As Lord Puttam says, some kids will even die from climate change. In the US, republicans are criticizing democrats for running deficits but fail to support climate change legislation. We are borrowing from the future by polluting. That is running up a type of deficit too. Tellworld leaders to stop putting short term interest in front of long term gain. Short term greed was what led to the Great Recession!
James Hwang, Irvine, US

I agree with Lord Puttnam. I'd like to add that children in the US that are poor and need to apply for financial assistance are not to qualify until they are twenty five years old unless their parents produce tax statements and list all assets. Congratulate the US for reinstating slavery for children in poverty.
Mary Gordon, Jamestown KY, US

there is no future for good abiding people because the rich have made sure of that by plundering the earth's resources and destroying the earths atmosphere
bob, cambridge

Lord Puttnam needs to open his eyes to the fact that global population is by far the greatest obstacle to a fulfilling future. Either humanity can figure out how to reduce population or mother nature will do the job herself. The UN plan is all about wealth redistribution. They are also aiming at a scenario where only a small elite proportion of the world's population will even travel by air -- because taxes on fuel will make it too expensive. The world's resources do not share very well with a population increasing through 7 billion. It was only 150 years ago that the world's population was just one billion. Remember also that sea level has risen approximately 120 metres over the last 18,000 years -- and it's still rising. People who live on river deltas and flood plains are going to have difficulty staying dry.
Phil Jones, New Zealand

With several thousand children every day dying from water-borne disease and increasing uncertainty about the link between carbon and climate change, we should be putting the climate change trillions into taps and toilets for the world's poor rather than messing around with carbon budgets
John Hardy, Redditch, UK

I completely agree with Mr. David Puttnam. I' 55 years old and consider my geneneration as the most reckless one squandering the comming generations future. Until two decades ago we were able to induge ourselves that we didn´t know how damaging our lifstyle was, but up to now neither my generation nor the following one did or are doing anything about it. What we need is to curb our consuption of energy, as far as energy is concernes we should put aside the nostrum that offer must match the demand, at least until we find out the way to produge energy without stealing our children future. Please let BBC business columnist read this comment.
andres bianco, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I agree that there has been climate change and more changes are probably on the way. Instead of ranting against people like myself, could we please look to the governments of some of these poorer nations and ask them to use the aid they are given to help their poor, perhaps by replanting the trees that have been scalped from their lands? The deforestation of these nations is appalling, especially as it looks like no new plantations/forests are being created. Where does the money go from people who pay for their "carbon offsets" when they fly, etc? What is it used for? Take Ghana for example, how little is left of their tree canopy. The amazon, where are the tree replacements bought by gullible children all those years ago?
Valerie, Washington,DC

Absent a radical slash in population [e.g., to 300M world-wide w/in 5 generations] ecolapse may be ineluctible...we can do that the easy way or nature's way...all the rest is commentary.
Don Bronkema, Washington, USA

As a grandparent I endorse wholeheartedly Lord Puttnam's views regarding how children throughout the world, most especially those in developing countries are and will be affected. I've recently come back from Zambia and have seen and experienced first hand the multifaceted problems that children are experiencing. So I thank Lord Puttnam for voicing his concerns so eloquently. Carol Tomlinson
Carol Tomlinson, Horley, England

I think future generations deserve to live out their lives enjoying the bounty the earth provides. They do not need to be scared to death by environmentalists and demagogues. There is no proven science that suggests a catastrophe will occur; there is only conjecture and speculation based on computer models.
Josiah, Dallas TX USA

Lord Puttnam does not know what he is talking about. There is no problem with CO2. It is not a poison/pollutant at present or even future levels. Climate Change has always happened and mankind has adapted to either hot or cold changes. The IPCC is a political animal and no right to quote chapter and verse on climate, about which it ignores the facts and twists any data to suit its own point of view. Lord Puttnam should help children in his capacity as Unicef Ambassador but keep out of blaming mankind for Mother Nature's climate whims.
Brian Johnson, Farnham Surrey UK

I predict that future generations will look back at our futile and pathetic attempts to control the climate in the way that we look on King Cnut's command to the tide. If the vast sums of money currently spent on the increasingly discredited theory of anthropogenic global warming were diverted to real, practical programmes of assistance to those in Third World countries, perhaps the prospects of future generations would be a bit brighter.
Jane, Mid Wales

Climate change is not only a debate among the sellers and buyers of CO2. It is the related to the livelihood of poor and marginalized people which are under the risk situation as the impacts of the climate change. The affects of the climate change can observed around the world, however the poor, marginalized people of the poor world are adversely suffering. The developed and industrialized countries those are liable and responsible for climate change should honest, accountable to address the impacts also. The impacts of the climate change are observed elsewhere. Occurring of drought, flood and unpredictable rain fall patterns have adversely influenced on biodiversity, plants' habitats and habits including agricultural activities in local level. Numbers of evidences are noted as the impacts of climate change in local level, such as: change in vegetation pattern, habitat expansion of crops and species, and loss of biodiversity (some valuable species). These have big implications to the livelihood system of the local communities especially poor and marginalized groups. Resulted is that women and children under poor, marginalized group are more vulnerable and in risk conditions. The situation is being worst and unpredictable. Every year hundreds of people are suffering, due to the exposure of vector-borne diseases like; as malaria, diarrhea, cholera and hunger. Likewise thousands of people are displaced as the flood and landslide victims in the country. The negotiations process of the climate change is still uncertain and unpredictable. To address and response of current vulnerabilities therefore, has become an urgent need. I think livelihood of the poor vulnerable communities should be a center theme for making strategies and measures to cope the impacts of climate change as they are likely to become more prevalent. Communities are trying to response to address the threats of climate change in local level based on practical experiences and knowledge. But these initiations are not adequate to address the magnitude of climate change threats. Therefore need base technology is an important to minimize the effects of the climate change and to develop the appropriate technology and capacity enhancement of the people are also crucial issues to address the results and impacts of the climate change. On this context, the developed nations who are more responsible to debasing the climate should pay more attention and priority on livelihood of the poor people of the poor world during the of climate change talk.
suvas chandra devkota, Kathmandu

Count to 1.5 billion. Now imagine a sea of that many peoplefive times the population of the United States — still waiting for a path to the good life, still living in villages and on farms that lack electricity. In developing Asia alone, according to an estimate last year by the International Energy Agency, 809 million people have yet to be linked to a power source. No wonder the United Nations' meeting on climate change next month in Copenhagen will issue a non-binding (that is, meaningless) agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while postponing more serious action for another year. No wonder an international agreement to radically reduce total carbon output on a schedule demanded by green activists faces insurmountable odds. You will hear endlessly in coming weeks that the U.S. is to blame for the impending failure of Copenhagen and the fact that 192 nations are now resigned to symbolic gestures. So long as the U.S. fails to pass legislation imposing strict caps on carbon emissions, the critics complain, U.S. officials have no leverage to push developing countries into action. And the Senate isn't even going to take up climate legislation until next year. But even if Congress could pass a strict climate bill, which is doubtful, many countries are in no position to ratchet down their greenhouse emissions anytime soon, whatever they say in public. How could they, with billions of people still knocking on modernity's door? And don't forget population growth, which will add at least 2.5 billion people to the developing world by 2050. Won't they demand electricity, too? It's simply inconceivable that their governments will rule out the use of fossil fuels to supply them with it.
Henry Sparks, Montrose,CO 81403

I miss good old global warming. That was something you could really sink your teeth into. This whole climate change moniker is boring and indecisive. Lord Puttnam is a tool for bringing the kids into the middle of this. Please leave the children alone.
Jim Heath, Atlanta, Ga

Frankly; if you want to actually solve the problem; don't have quite so many "future generations !!"
Steven Walker, Penzance

This kind of article haunts me. Recently I had a recurring dream of several families eating in an expensive restaurant. The meal drags on as the adults repeatedly order more and more courses and the children get terribly impatient. The dream ends when the adults announce to the children's shock and disbelief that the enormous bill is for them. They won't be singing the praises of "my generation".
Brian Bennet, Burlington Ontario Canada

I will not believe these theories until there is a substantial debate amongst the many scientists who deny these statements. Why has there been no such debate? What are the politicians afraid of? There is absolutely too much money involved, and there is no longer any trust in the political administrations; too much greed and graft over the years, which is really what the problem has been. Government has been at fault and now they want the taxpayers to fix it.....and give them lots more of our money. I say it's all baloney.
Darlene Fehsenfeld, Des Plaines, IL, USA

"Reaching their full potential"? Climate change will ensure that millions of people, men women and children around the globe will die. Food and water shortages will lead to more wars and conflicts which will exacerbate matters. The frustrating thing is that the science has been known and people have refused to listen. I do all I can, but most people won't even share a car to work in the morning, let alone get on a bus, never mind walk. I hope they will remember it is their fault when the bad weather really starts hitting.
RedMandar,

Along with the MWP there are several other warming periods in 'civilized' history. The Roman Warming Period being another. During these warming times across the world it has been seen as a great period of growth, development of many ancient societies and improvements of science, health, and longevity have all happened during periods of warming. During periods like the Maunder Minimum and the Dalton winters we have seen a regression in society, an increase in fossil fuels being used and a decrease in the standard of living. Even as recent as the 1970's the same world group think that we are seeing with the CWP worries stated the world was cooling. With is a similar list to what you presented above: decrease in crop land, lack of drinking water, decrease in living conditions. Historically, warming periods are advantageous periods of time. Cooling periods are periods that lineate the ending of civilizations, including the Aztecs, Romans and even our 'Euro-centric' society during the 'Little Ice Age.' The curious part is that the Little Ice Age seems to the ideal for those worried about climate change. I submit that your worries are not going to come to affect as you present them based on history. That warming is good for human civilization as it always has been in the past. And that benefit will help out the children and the poor civilizations more then the rest of us.
Josh, Washington State, US

I think that sometimes, the world's continuing failure to act on climate change simply feels like too much to stand, and as a result we end up simply spinning our wheels out of frustration. I feel like that might be what Lord Puttnam is doing, here. Attempts to frame climate change in terms of human rights or its impact on the ability of children to reach their full potential in the future are technically sound--but they should be entirely beside the point. All things being equal, it should be obvious that we ought to avoid the prospect of destabilizing climate patterns and risking rising sea levels, awful heat waves, dust bowls, etc.. Yet the denials, the inertia, the finger-pointing have all combined to make this simple conclusion, let alone a course of action to do something about it, seemingly more elusive than middle east peace. Thus we have the spectacle of reasonable, intelligent people going to greater and greater lengths in an attempt to explain why sleepwalking into global environmental catastrophe will be a bad thing. You almost have to laugh--or else scream.
Matt Kuhns, Lakewood, Ohio, USA

Dear Sir, if there is climate change why Lord Puttnam implies that the only option is to cut CO2? Why do not follow more practical approach and instead punishing the developing countries and spending billions cutting CO2 we do not spend more money for helping the world adapt to climate change and develop furher? And to help all dying childrens now not is some future? CO2 cutting approach does not make any sense from economic analysis point of view. You just put money down the drain. I am fine with more ecological measures including new none-Co2 polluting technologies, but this should be part of concious policy plan, not some PC comunist based slogans like "Lets fight climate change". Lets fight human stupiduty I will say. best regards Valko Yotov
Valko Yotov, Bracknell

I agree! Without Haste, we must do all we can do now. 1) Move to Nuclear and renewables Best regards, James
James Stoddard, San Jose, California United States of America

I do not agree with Lord Puttnam at all. What will prevent children from obtaining success and a healthy life is to stop listening to bureaucrats, be educated, be less dependent upon government and high-tax environmental policies that do nothing to curb pollution, and actually be free to pursue their dreams with love and support from family, not government, especially the UN.
Mike Hatrock, Edmonton, Canada

This has to be the biggest scam ever pulled on mankind. Now we try with the emotional blackmail Wake up people this is just another tax that will not reverse a thing
Peter Duncan, Horsley NSW Australia

No. I do not agree with Lord Puttnam. If I said a thousand times no, would it make a difference? How about, "it's not the weather, stupid?" Sadly, I have nothing to offer as the means to save those children, or any children referred to in this: "Our children and those as yet unborn deserve to live in a world that is healthier, more equitable and which offers a sustainable future." I don't clearly see the day when what's considered equitable in Somalia will be agreed upon in Seattle, Surrey, or St. Petersburg. Smoke, and mirrors. Get rid of the smoke, so you can look in the mirror? Is that what the environmental movement is all about? Seems so to me.
Richard Almack, Woodland Hills, California, USA

Such concern over future generations belies the fact that so little has been done for the children of today. A third of the population of the Earth has no access to electricity, which does more to harm future generations than any worries about dubious claims of anthropogenic global warming. Massive amounts of research and other monies already spent on this hoax that promotes poverty would have been better employed to provide real help to the diseased and starving in the Third World. Carbon trading and other promotional schemes will do nothing to stop the natural warming trend, but will definitely further restrict power access and the wealth it generates to the poor countries of the world. At the same time, these plans will continue to empower the world's elite at the expense of the poor in all countries. The hoax of global warming has captured the attention of the gullible news media, who now serve as minions to the huxters. Global warming controls will not save the planet and provide a better future for the children. The will set in stone a future of poverty, despair, disease and death.
Concerned Citizen of the World, Clarkston, Washington USA

Yes. He is absolutely right. We must act now. Copenhagen might be the last chance.
Rosalind Blum, Memphis, TN, United States



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