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.

A happy ending after all?

Suddenly, a few reasons to be optimistic about Copenhagen

Suddenly, unexpectedly, there is a ray of hope in the air, hope that a significant global climate deal may yet be struck at December’s talks in Copenhagen. It could herald the start of a successful agreement, or it could dissolve just as rapidly into despair. And the coming week will do much to determine which. Key high-level meetings, starting Thursday and running until Friday next week, offer an unprecedented — and probably unrepeatable — chance to inject political will into the bogged down international negotiations. But back to that rare ray of optimism. The last session of international climate negotiations, …

Letter from Europe

Japan election a shot in the arm for climate talks

The change in governments in Japan could make Yvo de Boer’s job of shepherding a new climate deal easier.World Economic Forum via Flickr“If we continue at this rate we are not going to make it,” concluded a grim-faced Yvo de Boer at the end of the latest session of international climate talks in Bonn last month. Three weeks later, and with just three months and only 15 UN negotiating days until the vital conference in Copenhagen, de Boer’s assessment still rings true. Three sessions in the former German capital’s modernistic Maritim Conference Center since the beginning of April have failed …

Letter from Europe

Bordering on Chaos: Climate change melts lines drawn in ice

As climate change melts the world’s glaciers, some nations must redefine their national borders. Above, the Basodino Glacier near the Swiss-Italian border.Via Wikimedia Commons Something really rather strange is happening to Switzerland, where I spent part of last week at an international conference. The mountainous country is shrinking as a result of global warming. The Italian and Swiss governments have agreed to redraw parts of the border between the two nations — fixed in 1861, when Italy became a unified state. Climate change is increasingly emerging as a cause of changes in national boundaries, something traditionally achieved by warring armies …

Letter from Europe

Britain’s Labour government places big bet on low-carbon future

The Science Museum is one of London’s best-loved landmarks, largely because generations of children have been taken there by their parents to play with its increasingly sophisticated sets of hands-on gadgets. But it also houses the originals of some of the iconic inventions that made possible Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Lord Mandelson, Britain’s deputy prime minister, climate secretary Ed Miliband and Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, at the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan launch event at the London Science Museum on July 15, 2009, Courtesy UK Dept. of Energy and Climate Change via FlickrThat revolution, of course, was powered by coal, …

Letter from Europe

Despite Ban Ki-Moon’s complaint, G8 summit produced climate progress

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) greets Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.UN Photo/Mark GartenUnlike some of his predecessors, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon seems to be a brave man, for he has had the courage to chide his most powerful paymasters for failing to do enough to combat climate change. What’s more, he did so last week just as the leaders were congratulating themselves for what they had achieved when they met in L’Aquila, Italy. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it an “historic agreement.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was a “clear …

Letter from Europe

Britain’s battered leader is set on saving the world

At home he is almost universally seen as a politician running out of time, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown continues to stride onto the international stage as if he were guaranteed many more years in power. He may have lost his rapport with the British public, chalked up blunder after blunder, and already faced two attempted coups by fellow Labourites in Parliament, but he continues to try to “save the world.” Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown talk Monday during a pre-G8 summit in Evian, France. Both leaders support a new international accord on greenhouse gases, but Brown has gone further …

Letter from Europe

With a melting Greenland as a backdrop, Danish minister urges climate action

The Sermeq Kujalleq glacier (also known as the Jakobshavn Glacier) near where it flows into the sea in western Greeland. The photo was taken in the summer of 2008. Scientists have recorded the glacier’s rapid melt over the past decade.Courtesy kriskaer via Flickr Here’s a tip for the ministers who are attending the latest of the long series of meetings preparing for the make-or-break climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December. Go visit the valley of the dogs. Yes, that’s dogs, not dolls. Greenland sled dogs to be precise. For this week’s meeting of 30 ministers from key countries is in …

Letter from Europe

Britain coughs up a coal-powered climate policy

“Give me coal,” Ernest Bevin, Britain’s immediate post-war foreign secretary told the nation’s miners 53 years ago, “and I’ll give you a foreign policy.” UK climate change secretary Ed MilibandWikimedia CommonsExhausted, and almost bankrupt after defeating Hitler’s Reich, but still insisting on maintaining a huge army and air force to remain a world power, Britain turned to its traditional source of wealth — the black gold that had made it an industrial nation. Now another rising British minister facing an even greater crisis — this time a planetary one — is effectively coining a new slogan. “Give me clean coal,” …

Letter from Europe

Raining on the climate parade

At the Bonn climate talks, environmental groups showed their displeasure with Japan’s proposed carbon emissions cuts by comparing Prime Minister Aso with former U.S. president George W. Bush.Climate Action Factory via FlickrEven the skies wept last week when the latest cold front slammed into the ongoing effort to draft a new international climate treaty. The weather had been generally fine and sunny in Bonn during the early part of the two-week gathering, and participants in the talks had taken to sitting out on the terrace of the Maritim hotel and conference center to escape the atmosphere inside. Then, towards the …

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