The people's planet: On the road to Copenhagen

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Eco-campaigners offer their own solutions to climate change ahead of the UN summit in New York this week – a meeting that holds the key to striking a new 'Kyoto' treaty in Denmark in December. Jonathan Owen and Jenny Armstrong report

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Franny Armstrong,
Producer of 'The Age of Stupid'



Cut our emissions by 10 per cent in 2010

"To maximise our chances of preventing runaway climate change, we must quickly and massively cut global emissions. By signing up to the 10:10 campaign, you will commit yourself, your school, your hospital, your church, your business, your whatever, to cut 10 per cent of your emissions next year. As well as being achievable for the vast majority of the population, 10 per cent in one year is the kind of cut the science tells us we need."

Professor John Beddington, Government's Chief Scientific Adviser

Cut emissions to keep temperature rise to 2c above pre-industrial levels

"Global warming is happening and presents unprecedented risks to the planet. The science is clear that to avoid the worst effects. and to keep the risks of catastrophic climate change to an acceptable level, we must keep global temperature rise to C above pre-industrial levels. We must act urgently to make deep cuts in emissions. It's up to the politicians to deliver the deal that the evidence so clearly shows we need."

Sian Berry, Green candidate for London Mayor, 2008

Invest in railways, buses and home insulation as part of a green new deal

"We need to show that a fair agreement won't mean sacrificing jobs by building a genuine Green New Deal: strategic investment in the low-carbon infrastructure we'll need to reach our targets. This doesn't just mean hi-tech kit. The most impressive savings can be made much closer to home. Measures like new local rail lines, running more buses and – most effective and best value – cutting waste by insulating homes and replacing old boilers with more efficient models."

Dr Zhengrong Shi, Solar-cell scientist and businessman

Persuade China and the United States to lead the world

"The most important step toward an effective solution to climate change is for China and the US to commit to specific and meaningful reductions in carbon emissions. The mechanism for doing this is far less important than setting targets and applying severe penalties for not meeting them. With the US and China in the lead, the rest of the world will quickly follow; without them, we will continue to pontificate while the world's climate continues to deteriorate."

Zac Goldsmith, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Richmond, Surrey

Act on the solutions we have, such as micro-generation of energy

"We need tough targets for emissions reductions, mechanisms for helping poorer countries adapt, and a formula for putting real value on forests so they are worth more standing than destroyed. We don't need to pin our hopes on technologies that don't yet exist. Almost everything that needs doing is already being done somewhere."

Daryl Hannah, Actress and dedicated eco-campaigner

Abandon nuclear power in favour of renewable, clean energy

"We need to focus on truly renewable, regenerative, clean energy – that is not nuclear power, folks! Since more energy hits the Earth from the Sun in one hour than all other forms of energy man uses in an entire year, we should be putting our financial and mental resources toward developing community-based solar and solar-thermal projects. We could also employ micro-hydro and vertical-wind turbines. Our highest goal should be energy and resource conservation."

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change

We need a zero-carbon electricity supply by 2025

"Decarbonising the electricity supply is the number one [priority] throughout the world. We've got to move by 2025 or so to an almost zero-carbon electricity supply, probably first in the developed world, but then in the developing world. We have to be incredibly miserly with the energy we use and we have to think of producing energy with as near zero-carbon emissions to the atmosphere as we can."

Professor Sir John Houghton, Founder, the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

Foot the annual $150bn-plus bill for helping developing countries tackle climate change

"Rich countries must commit to reducing their emissions by at least 25 to 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020. They must develop low-carbon economies at home and provide much needed finance for poor countries to adapt to climate change and to help them develop in a sustainable, low-carbon way. Developing countries need at least $150bn a year for adaptation and emissions cuts. It is essential that this money is found."

Rhian Kelly, Head of Climate Change, CBI

Make a 50 per cent global cut in emissions by 2050 to stimulate low-carbon markets

"Provide business certainty by setting long-term emissions reduction targets for 2050 of a 50 per cent global reduction. There should also be medium-term targets for 2020. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills recently said that if you get an ambitious deal at Copenhagen it will create global markets for low-carbon goods and environment services of £4.5trn by 2015. We need to build a global price of carbon. We need to establish a global carbon market."

Fazlun Khalid, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Reduce personal energy use by 10 per cent

"While those ahead in the race are able to create more money to stay ahead, those behind engage in an almost impossible game of catch-up. The victim of this game is planet Earth and climate change is the result. We are all as much part of the solution as we are of the problem. If each of us can reduce our energy consumption by 10 per cent we would make a significant contribution to reducing the negative effects of climate change."

Sir David King, Former chief scientific adviser to the British Government

Avoid rushing to do a deal on carbon trading

"What we need is a robust process that doesn't have unintended consequences. My fear is that a developed world carbon trading scheme has this big consequence of carbon leakage. I would much rather we didn't reach an agreement at Copenhagen in December because I'm afraid that any agreement that's on the cards is totally inadequate,. I would be much happier to see an agreement reached by December next year.

Christine Loh, International adviser to the G8+5 Climate Change Dialogue

Follow the scientific evidence when coming up with policies to tackle climate change

"Humans are bargaining with each other, but ignoring the planet. What humans can do to reduce emissions is one thing, but if planetary boundaries are breached we are all imperiled. The planet needs to be represented – this is the job of science, and it is against the latest scientific evidence that the world needs to look at proposals, such as G8's to aim to cut emissions in half from 1990 levels by 2050."

James Lovelock, Inventor of the Gaia theory

Spend half our effort against climate change to prepare for the worst

"The Earth is in a pretty poor state, and likely to go on changing whatever we do and if that's true the most important job for governments to do is to prepare adaptation. Our own government should be making sure that protection against disastrous flooding, say, of London, is in place in time. The sensible thing to do is prepare for the worst, to spend half your effort doing that, just in case, as an insurance."

Wangari Maathai, Nobel prize-winning Kenyan sustainable development activist

Help developing countries go to low-carbon economies

"It should be a serious commitment that is translated into action at a national level. That means allocating resources to effect the agreements. In many countries they don't have the technology or the capital to make that low carbon economy happen, so they will need help from developed countries that are partly responsible for the problem. I hope this will be seen not so much as charity but as a justice issue."

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive director, Scientists for Global Responsibility

Slash the $1.5trn a year on military budgets – spend it on fighting climate change

"Energy use is the biggest source of carbon emissions, and we need a revolution in the sector to cut emissions enough to prevent dangerous climate change. With the world's governments spending a massive $1.5trn a year on military activities, a good way of releasing the money and skills would be by slashing these budgets. Given that climate change, if unchecked, will undermine global security, this makes sense from both an environmental and a security perspective."

Jonathon Porritt, Former chair of Sustainable Development Commission

Create a climate-change fund for developing countries

"Agree a new fund to help developing countries, to be designed and managed by the poor world as well as the rich world a significant percentage needs to be reserved for a new deal on deforestation. If countries like Brazil and Indonesia are able to confirm their willingness to do a deal this would represent a massive breakthrough. All OECD countries must acknowledge responsibility for today's climate crisis, and confirm their commitment to dramatic reductions in emissions by 2020."

Professor Stephen Schneider, Nobel prizewinning climatologist at Stanford University

Don't rely on 'cap and trade' – invest in green technology and energy efficiency too

"Cap and trade is only part of a comprehensive climate protection strategy. Other elements include performance standards – energy efficiency – investment incentives for green technology, and adaptation assistance for those having difficulty in coping with climate impacts. With the whole world watching at Copenhagen it will be hard for individual countries to try to block international progress in protecting the planetary commons unnoticed."

Dr Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology

Go organic globally and abandon factory farming

"Most methane and CO2 production comes from an industrialised, globalised agriculture system. The single biggest step that could be taken to reduce emissions – while improving our food systems, protecting farmers' livelihoods, and creating climate resilience – is to go organic on a global scale. That would mean the huge subsidies the government spends on chemical fertilisers wouldn't have to be spent, instead they could support the farmers to make the transition."

Julia Stephenson, Green activist and columnist

Make it cheaper for people to 'do the right thing'

"I would like the Copenhagen Summit to set out financial incentives to encourage us to live a thriftier – ie greener – lifestyle. The carrot works better than the stick, so governments should emphasise that going green means saving money, and implement a raft of incentives to help, like pay as you throw make rail travel cheaper. At the moment it is left to individuals to do the right thing. Currently, doing the right thing is expensive, and often inconvenient."

Ianukula Kaiabi Suia, President of ATIX, an indigenous organisation in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Include indigenous people in the Copenhagen negotiations and go back to nature

"When rulers of countries talk of international agreements to end man's devastating effect on nature they should look at us and see what hasn't been destroyed, and appreciate that in spite of all the enormous scientific progress the knowledge of traditional peoples represents the best way for man to co-exist with nature. The indigenous peoples want to be included when drafting agreements, because it is from the forests and the waters of their protected territories that the world sees hope."

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