Call for global solidarity on climate change

12 December 2008

UN leader Ban Ki-moon calls for global solidarity on climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference as it comes to an end today in Poznan, Poland.

The 2-week event brought together nearly 11,000 participants from all over the world to discuss the process of creating an international climate change deal in 2009 at the next conference in Copenhagen.

The UN secretary-general highlighted the urgency of dealing with climate change and the need for strong leadership from the EU and USA.

He spoke of the two crises we face, climate change and the global economy, and that the two can be addressed together.

'Managing the global financial crisis requires massive global stimulus. A big part of that spending should be an investment - an investment in a green future,' Ban Ki-moon said.

Climate change and biodiversity

As well as affecting humans, climate change will have a major impact on the Earth's biodiversity. As climates and habitats change, so too do the plants and animals that live there.

Declining species

Regular scientific studies show species on the decline. The world’s biodiversity, especially primates and amphibians, are facing serious threats, and many are likely to disappear forever.

One of the latest reports is about European butterflies - a new book, The Climatic Risk Atlas of European Butterflies, says that Britain risks losing many of its butterflies as hundreds of species flee north as a result of climate change.

Species on the move

Species move into new environments too. For example, only this summer, scientists at the Natural History Museum discovered a mysterious new insect living in the Museum's Wildlife Garden. 

This was its first appearance in the UK and it may have been introduced accidentally. 

However, the warming London climate suited the insect so well that it is now the most common insect species in the garden.

New spiders making home

Originally from southern Europe, the false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis) is now established in the south and east of England and as global warming continues, areas further north are becoming more favourable for the spiders.

Natural History Museum and climate change

The vast specimen collections and scientific research carried out at the Natural History Museum help scientists learn more about the impacts of climate change.

The Museum carries out a wide variety of work, from monitoring biodiversity changes and the spread of diseases such as malaria, identifying changes in seasonal wildlife activity such as the earlier appearance of bluebells, and predicting future climate change effects.

For example, Museum scientists can show how different animals and plants responded to past climate changes with extinctions or changes in geographic distribution. This work can be used to make more accurate predictions about current global climate changes.

And working with an international team, Museum scientists devised a groundbreaking new technique to help prioritise the best habitats to conserve first, to make sure the most species are protected, crucial in these times when many species are so vulnerable.

Unprecedented pressures

Climate change, and other crises such as habitat destruction, species loss and pollution, have created unprecedented pressures on the planet’s biodiversity. The Museum’s expertise, collections and research mean it is well placed to monitor biodiversity and help devise strategies to reduce future species loss.