Backbenchers and business offer hope for future

While senior politicians and some of the world's top negotiators painstakingly pick their way towards international agreements on climate change, a global group of backbenchers and business leaders hopes to push forward and act as a catalyst for progress.

Politicians and key corporate figures from around the world gathered in London this week to announce the launch of the G8+5 Legislators & Business Leaders Climate Change Dialogue - a clumsy title, perhaps, for a group that wants to streamline the international response to climate change.

"We have great potential to make this dialogue into a significant contribution to the international direction of climate change policy," said Joan Ruddock MP, joint chair of the GLOBE International at the launch of the dialogue.

"We've got a lot of support and common feeling around this table and as an MP I'm only too conscious that climate change has shot up the political agenda.

"People are now demanding that we do more and Government does more and I'm frequently lobbied by companies that say they can do more and want to make their contribution."

She said that while the UK's politicians might be able to help with these issues at home, climate change was, like no other, a truly international issue that needed global accord to tackle.

"We want to share experiences, work together and contribute ideas towards the search for solutions."

The group hopes to act as a forum for the free flowing of ideas and good practice so members can learn from each others successes.

But it also wants a scrutiny role, and will mirror major meetings of the G8 feeding into discussions and holding its own debate.

While the world's governments might be tied to a strict party line and are often forced to progress at the pace of the slowest mover on an issue, GLOBE argues it will be unfettered by negotiations and this freedom to address issues will mean it provides a valuable role.

As a bottom-up gathering members can also take ideas that have worked on a local level and push for their adoption within their own area, nationally, regionally or even globally.

The group has a foot in two camps, providing the opportunity for legislators and business people to interact but aims to go beyond the traditional lobbiest-politician relationship.

Ian Johnson, vice president of the World Bank, speaking at the launch, said: "We really do believe that climate change not only a global environmental issue, it's a major and significant development issue too.

"Poor countries are very vulnerable to climate change and poor people in these countries are extremely vulnerable.

"In the next 20 or 30 years the emissions of developing countries as a whole will exceed those of the rich world."

Rather than repeat the polluting mistakes of the past, there was a possibility to promote more sustainable development.

"We need to look at whether there are opportunities for technology transfer," said Mr Johnson.

"For something cleaner, more efficient, and better than anything we've ever seen before."

"It's an issue we have a stake in as the World Bank and an issue that will effect each and every one of us and how we live."

by Sam Bond



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