Geoffrey Lean

Geoffrey Lean, Contributing Editor (Environment) at London's Daily Telegraph, has been covering the field for almost 40 years and has won many national and international awards for his work.

False Alarm

Copenhagen panic is premature

As resurrections go, it was a speedy one. On Monday, much of the world’s media declared that the chances of a worthwhile deal being reached at next month’s international climate talks were as dead as the proverbial dodo. By Tuesday, however, the conjectured corpse was clearly still alive, if not exactly kicking. President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao were quick to insist this week that their two nations are committed to making Copenhagen a success.  Above, the two leaders together at a reception before the formal state dinner at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Nov. …

Letter From Europe

From hopeful climate to climate of despair

It was less than a year ago, but everything seemed so different then. George W. Bush was still in the White House, but officials gathered at the annual international climate talks, held last December in Poznan, felt new hope in the chilly Polish air: President-elect Obama had, against many expectations, made it clear that combatting global warming was to be a priority for his incoming administration. George W. Bush may no longer be president, but America is once again seen as the bad guy in the effort to negotiate a new climate change pact. Above, a gagged “Statue of Liberty” …

Letter From Europe

Copenhagen reality check: Gov’ts concede new climate treaty unlikely until 2010

Now it’s out in the open. Key government leaders and U.N. officials are finally, publicly admitting what they have long privately believed: there is no chance of concluding a new climate treaty in Copenhagen next month. For a full two years the world has been committed to finalizing a new agreement to succeed the present provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, with negotiations in the Danish capital set to cap off the process. But the slowness of the cumbersome U.N. negotiations (there’s still no concise proposed text for a new treaty!) and the likely failure of the U.S. Senate to pass …

Letter from Europe

Global climate pact may hinge on EU summit

Now the world really is coming to the crunch point. As governments across the globe travelled the long, winding and rocky road to Copenhagen over the last few years, there have been many times when the next stage, usually steep uphill, seemed absolutely crucial. But none has come close to the importance of the stretch that begins this week. On Thursday and Friday European heads of government, meeting in Brussels, will struggle to come up with proposals on how to finance measures in poor countries to cut emissions and adapt to the devastating effects of climate change — the most …

Letter from Europe

London gathering gives boost to climate talks

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has committed his politically battered government to sealing a climate deal in Copenhagen this year. Above, Brown speaks at the Major Economies Forum, held this past weekend in London.UK Dept. of Energy & Climate Change It certainly caught the eye. “The world’s future is being decided this weekend” ran the headline over an op-ed piece in Sunday’s Observer. And the byline was pretty compelling too: Nicholas Stern, now Lord Stern, the author of the groundbreaking report bearing his name on the economics of climate change. The rather more sober text of the article did not …

Letter from Europe

From Oslo to Copenhagen: Earning the Peace Prize

Could Barack Obama’s controversial Nobel Prize help bring about an effective global agreement to tackle climate change? Could the American president, by heading straight to Denmark after collecting his prize, actually demonstrate why he was the right pick for the honor within days of delivering his laureate address? It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Oslo to Copenhagen. Will President Obama make the trip in the interest of cashing in his Nobel Prize for a new climate deal?The questions arise because Obama is due to receive the world’s most prestigious award in Oslo on December 10. And just …

Letter from Europe

On climate, leading from the front (for a change)

Leaders of the world’s richest and fastest-growing economies are pushing for climate action even though their citizens have yet to wake up to the scale of the problem. Above, national leaders pose at the most recent G8 meeting last June in Italy. (White House Photo).Something unusual seems to be happening in the struggle to wake the world up to the reality of climate change. Almost unprecedented for an environmental issue, national leaders appear to be out ahead of public opinion in their respective countries. President Obama has made climate action one of his top priorities after health care. Gordon Brown, …

Letter from Europe

Melting the glacial pace of climate talks

A view of the climate talks in Bangkok. Can you imagine getting this many people to agree on anything more substantive than the lunch menu?UNFCCC via FlickrHere they go again. As delegates from some 180 nations gather yet again to try to make progress on negotiating a new climate agreement, they are beginning to feel stir crazy. After all, this is the fourth time they have met this year … with remarkably little to show for it. Wading through quicksand would seem easy by comparison. Two things are different this time. One is that the meeting is being held in …

The nightingale scenario

HSBC team outlines possible post-Kyoto compromise

Just three months from now, in the final days before Christmas, we will know — for better or worse — what happened at Copenhagen. Looking back at a year that was described to me, as it opened, as “arguably the most important in human history”, we will know whether the world has matched up to it. So now, as the world enters the end game with a chain of summits this week, experts are beginning to work out what an agreement deal might look like, and whether that would be sufficient. First up is a report from a well regarded …

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