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Annual Garner Lecture : Environment on the Edge

Dec 12, 2005

The environment is on the edge of radical change in one or maybe two generations, government adviser, Sir Crispin Tickell, told members of the UK Environmental Law Association meeting on 8 December.

Sir Crispin Tickell has acted as a Government adviser on environmental issues, is a leading academic and was in the diplomatic service for many years.

He delivered the UK Environmental Law Association's annual Garner lecture in London.

He warned: "public understanding of why the environment is on the edge and the mechanisms for coping are not in place yet. The development on which many countries are bent is putting huge pressure on the biosphere".

Sir Crispin said that there were six specific environmental problems that were all linked: human population increase; increased waste generation; water pollution; the generation of energy whilst fossil fuels decrease; climate change; and the destruction of biodiversity. He said. "We have many institutions working on solutions but they aren't linked globally. We need a World Environment Organisation to balance the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation. "We also need urgent action on energy policy, not sucking up to car drivers and calling for new airports".

He referred to environmental "tipping points", for example:
 Changes in the direction of the North Atlantic current, which determines Britain's climate;
 The deforestation of the Amazonian rainforest, "the lungs of the planet";
 Melting of the ice sheets in Greenland;
 Drying out of the Siberian peat bogs;
 Frequency and intensity of changes in Pacific Ocean currents.

The cumulative effect of human impact on the environment could tip the balance of the earth's ecosystems and result in catastrophic changes. Sir Crispin said, as a result of environmental degradation brought about by such changes "...human life could become no more than an episode in the life of the planet, if an interesting episode".

Notes to the editors:

UKELA is the UK forum which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. UKELA's members are involved in the practice, study or formulation of Environmental Law in the UK and the European Union. It attracts both lawyers and non lawyers and has a broad membership.
2. The Garner lecture was kindly hosted by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Vicki Elcoate
UKELA Executive Director
01306 501320

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

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