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The Symposium and the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Climate change will require a transformation in many aspects of our lives to mitigate its impacts and adapt to its consequences. This is likely to encompass shifts in the technologies we use – for energy production, heating and transportation – and changes in our patterns of consumption. It will also affect the structure of the economies that underpin the current patterns of production and consumption, and the ways in which we make decisions at local, national, regional and international levels.

Despite this long-term perspective, the St. James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium comes at a particularly critical period in history. Firstly, recent science provides increasingly compelling evidence that significant global warming with associated negative consequences will occur unless there is concerted action in the next decade. We are, moreover, in a particular moment in which global economic failure has been added to the existing crises of endemic poverty, ecosystem damage and loss of biodiversity, all of which are also impacted by the rapid climate change that is occurring.

In 2009, the global community is paying particular attention to the global frameworks that will address these economic, environmental and climate challenges. The negotiations culminating in the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 will be a signal moment in outlining the nature of the climate challenge, the pathways that must be taken, and how this might be achieved.