The Korea Herald


Climate change is serious business, needs diplomatic will


Published : Oct. 9, 2011 - 20:27

    • Link copied

The British government’s chief scientific advisor highlighted the importance of collaboration in science and innovation during a visit to Seoul last week.

Sir John Beddington emphasized the importance of cross border collaboration in science and innovation and to promote closer Korea-British research collaboration.

He explained that problems associated with climate change are happening now and are manifesting through extreme weather patterns hitting every part of the globe, be it droughts in Africa, flooding in Asia or hurricanes in the Americas.

“Some of the most vulnerable parts of the world are very susceptible to floods and sea surges,” he said during a press conference.

Using Asia as an example, Beddington explained that many people live on river deltas which are “very vulnerable to flooding.”

In other parts of the world, droughts reduce agricultural crop production in turn increasing the price of food, causing more people to go into poverty.

“We cannot ignore climate change,” he said. “We have to recognize that we need to think about climate change in the context of major problems that the world faces.”
United Kingdom Chief Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald) United Kingdom Chief Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)

In particular, poverty, where 1 billion people are hungry, in energy poverty where 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity and in terms of water, where almost 1 billion people do not have access to sufficient fresh water.

“So we need to think about these issues of food, water and energy security in the context of climate change,” Beddington said.

The other point Beddington stresses, is that the world’s population will welcome its 7th billion inhabitant in the coming days.

“This increasing population is generating bigger demands for our natural resources,” he said.

Beddington admits that the solutions to these challenges are extremely difficult to tackle with no single answer available.

“There will be a number of solutions; one of them is a reduction in demand where people have to be more careful with energy.”

Beddington also suggests that another path that goes together with the reduction in demand is to find ways to produce energy using less carbon.

“We need to look to a movement away from fossil fuels into other types of energy production whether that’s nuclear and renewable,” Beddington said.

Another alternative is to use fossil fuels like coal or gas in a way that sequesters carbon for storage.

“What we need is a will from the international community and individual countries to reduce those greenhouse gas emissions,” Beddington said.

Two of the leaders are the United Kingdom committing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by the middle of the century and Korea aiming to cut its carbon footprint by 30 percent in the next nine years in a bid to tackle climate change.

“My message is that we’ve got to take these things seriously, we can’t look at them in isolation, we can’t look at climate change and forget about food, we can’t look at water and forget about climate change, all of them have to be thought about together,” he said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (