Sheffield – LAWFUEL – Environment Law News – The eyes of the world were on Sheffield as former US vice president and environmental campaigner Al Gore addressed 1,000 conference delegates on the dangers facing the planet due to climate change.
Mr Gore, who has focused his life on an environmental crusade to save the planet from irrevocable change, was speaking at the Cooling the Planet conference organised and hosted by the Sheffield office of global legal services organisation DLA Piper.
He praised Sheffield for tackling the issue of climate change head on and thanked the city’s people for raising their head above the parapet to face the challenge.
Mr Gore, whose thought-provoking documentary film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has won Oscar nominations said: “I am an admirer of the vision and determination that has been demonstrated in Sheffield to take this issue on. People from all walks of life have made this community stand out in the United Kingdom and among the communities throughout the world.”
Speakers at the conference included DLA Piper global board chairman Senator George Mitchell, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper, former Home Secretary David Blunkett, Yorkshire Forward chief executive Tom Riordan and Teresa Hitchcock, UK national head of DLA Piper’s Safety, Health and Environmental team who has devoted her 30-year career to promoting sustainable development.
All were in agreement that 2006 has been a landmark year for people waking up to climate change and that all businesses, agencies and individuals should act now.
Nigel Knowles, joint CEO at DLA Piper, said he was proud that large global companies like his were now working to address the climate change challenge.
He said: “Global warming will affect international relationships for a long time to come. It is clear it is one of the central challenges of our time and will affect literally every person on earth.
“These issues must be the concern of every leader, every enterprise and every individual. DLA Piper is doing its bit by launching its global sustainability initiative aimed at ensuring our adverse impacts on the environment are reduced at the source.
“We want to create a culture of sustainability and environmental responsibility throughout our firm and beyond.”
DLA Piper partner Teresa Hitchcock, who is an internationally recognised expert in the field said: “If we just sit back and do nothing we will all pay a very costly price. We need to stand up and be counted and get the message across, no matter how unpalatable that message is.
“The IPCC report has show that there is more than a 90 per cent chance that man made carbon gas emissions are causing global warming.
“If you do something wrong you are accountable and must do whatever you can to put it right. We need a permanent change in behaviour. I am prepared to stand up and be counted, my firm and my partners will stand up and be counted.”
In a major coup for the UK’s “greenest city”, the ‘Cooling The Planet’ conference brought, together for the first time, leaders of regional, national and international business to address the major climate change challenges that threaten economic sustainability. High profile guests at the conference included Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
Delegates were also told how Sheffield is leading the way in taking advantage of environmental business. The UK environment industry is worth £25 billion, employs 400,000 people and this is expected to double over the next ten years.
Housing Minister Yvette Cooper added: “We can make a difference if we act together. I think 2006 will be looked back on as the year the world woke up to climate change. All of us will need to do more. If we work together we can build a sustainable future for our children.”