Choosing a Future
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Choosing a Future

The Social and Legal Aspects of Climate Change

Edited by Anna Grear and Conor Gearty

The issue is no longer whether climate change is happening; it is rather what we should now be doing about it. Drawing together key thinkers and policy experts, this unique volume – also a Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment - engages with the human dimensions of climate change, offering a timely intervention into contemporary debates about the challenging relationship between law and society in a time of climate crisis. The result is an imaginative, well-informed and provocative collection of contemporary engagements with the greatest challenge of the age, concerned not only to understand the current crisis but to offer perspectives on how it can be addressed. At the heart of this volume is the conviction that change is urgent, possible and morally imperative.
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Chapter 2: An interview with Connie Hedegaard, European Union Commissioner for Climate Action

Conor Gearty


CONOR GEARTY: How can we raise our collective level of ambition with respect to climate change? CONNIE HEDEGAARD: I think the minute that we start to understand that continuing business as usual comes with a price tag, then we will see that it would be wiser to spend some money investing in a more climate-friendly future. I had an experience recently at the World Economic Forum in Dalian. At the traditional leaders’ lunch comprised of heads of states and finance ministers, the new Leader of the World Bank, Jim Kim, was asked to give his view of the state of the world economy in 2013. He had ten minutes. He spent seven of those ten minutes talking about climate change. He said, ‘You guys do not understand. Climate change is not an environmental issue. Our response to climate change will define our economic growth in the twenty-first century’. In the room, the leader of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagard, echoed exactly the same message. The meeting was moderated by OECD Secretary, General Gurr'a, echoing exactly the same view. I believe that when the key economic institutions start to understand that climate change is not an environmental issue to be parked in some corner, but that it has to be integrated into our economic growth strategies – that is something worth noticing. CONOR GEARTY: What is interesting is that all of those people have huge responsibilities but not to electorates. Lord Nick Stern has been talking about the economic good sense of managing the problems generated by climate change for a number of years. So, how do we manage to deliver that moral imperative against a background of ‘political feasibility’ so often resistant to it? You’ve mentioned several names. I could mention Tony Abbott from Australia. I could mention Nigel Farage. There are all these political leaders who are not interested in the long term. They are interested in elections. How do they get persuaded by the kind of people you mentioned?

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