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The annual United Nations Climate Action meeting in New York on September 23rd created more noise for the stand-off between an angry looking 16 year-old Swedish girl and US President Trump, but there was a lot more substance to the meeting than this little spat.

Good news and bad news went together. The good news is that some 60 countries committed to reducing their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, or at least attempting to do so. The bad news is that a lot of very big carbon emitters, notably the USA but also Australia and others, were either absent or made no such commitment at all.

The real news however was the updated report from the World Meteorological Organisation (which is responsible for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC) that highlighted the accelerating speed of global warming. Melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, heat waves, devastating storms and flooding, loss of crops and habitats, ocean acidification and consequential migration of populations.  It is pretty tragic story and one that needs rapid intervention to turn around.

I had the privilege of seeing this presentation in an event organised by the Finland Embassy a week before so the news was no surprise to me- what is shocking still is that the world seems to shrug its shoulders and move on as if nothing is going to change.

I am an old man and will not see the damage my generation has caused. But I really do understand the anger of young people who inherit this mess and have to deal with it or live through it.

 

David Newman

President, World Biogas Association

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