Journalists can share scientific knowledge with a larger audience.
Standing here in the southern part of Africa, where studies already predict water shortages, decreased agriculture and the spread of diseases such as malaria in the coming 20 to 30 years, I am reminded of the importance and urgency of our joint task in combating climate change.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents—a situation aggravated by the interaction of multiple stresses and low capacity to adapt.
Denmark is hosting the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change, the COP15 this year. In December all nations will gather in Copenhagen to reach a deal that must be bold and ambitious enough to save the world.
Denmark—as president of the COP—will do everything in its power to facilitate this. We also need the rest of the world to work with us. We are facing overwhelming tasks. We can only overcome them together.
It is not only about cutting emissions. It is about securing a better world for our children and their children to come. A world where we all benefit from economic growth without an increase in consumption of fossil fuel.
It is possible to do so; our own country—Denmark—has done so. Since 1981 we have had nearly stable energy expenditure while experiencing economic growth of 75%.
This has been possible through a more efficient use of conventional energy resources but also through large-scale investment in renewable energy sources such as windmills and biofuel.
Journalists have a huge impact on public perceptions. You can force governments to abandon policies, persuade businesses and public bodies to adopt new techniques and bring the full force of the public opinion behind social and economic issues including academic research.
The climate debate is filled with scientific words and expressions that are unknown to most people—to those who will feel the consequences.
You will have to translate and share all the scientific research and facts about climate change to every child, woman and man on the African continent.
Albert Einstein once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is the task that lies ahead.
Thomas Becker is leading Denmark in the 2009 round of climate change negotiations. He spoke on behalf of Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedergaard at the opening of a pan-African workshop on dealing with climate change dissidents run by George Claassen of the South African Science Journalism Association