Who's driving the debate?

  • Richard Sambrook
  • 26 Jan 07, 01:27 PM

"Seeing Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth was a tipping point for me". The speaker was Klaus Kleinfeld, the CEO of Siemens, one of the world's biggest technology companies. The BBC World debate was exploring who is driving the change of attitude towards climate change - the public, business or politics. Personal impressions seemed to be critical. The younger generation were clearly influencing their parents. " My 15 year old daughter said this problem was created by my generation, that she was scared and angry and we better fix it," said one silicon valley entrepreneur. Science had mobilised public opinion , business was now reacting, but there was a mixed verdict on the politicians. A BBC poll showed that only one person in 5 thinks the issue is being taken seriously enough - but only 50 % were prepared to compromise their own standard of living to make a difference. And there lies the dilemma - between talk and action - for individuals as well as for politicians and businesses.

Business saw an opportunity. What society wants, there's money to be made providing. That was true of "green energy" as much as anything else. It might also be a solution to the developing world emissions which are, unsurprisingly, growing at an alarming rate. "We can provide the clean technology which can allow them to develop with lower emissions" said one.

For David Miliband, the British Environment Secretary, Climate Change was now a "Threshold Issue" - like inflation or security. If you can't show you "get it" you are unelectable, he said. Even politicians unconvinced by the science agreed with that.

The hour long debate will be broadcast on BBC World TV and World Service radio over the weekend to an estimated audience of over 100 million people. One of the reasons the BBC makes a commitment to this event is to bring access to the decision makers and the debate to our audiences around the world, in English and 32 other languages. Later this year we will be holding similar debates from Africa or India.

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