Europe Tackles Climate Change During Green Week 2005

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 27, 2005 (ENS) - "Get to grips with climate change" is the slogan and the goal, of this year’s Green Week, the European Commission’s annual conference program and exhibition showcasing the European Union's environment policy.

Green Week 2005 will take place in the Charlemagne building from May 31 in the week leading up to World Environment Day on June 5.

"Climate change is happening," the Commission says in its invitation to Green Week. Over the past century the average temperature has risen by more than 0.6° Celsius globally and by almost 1°C (1.8 degrees F) in Europe.

"An overwhelming majority of the world's climate experts believe most of the warming is caused by human activities which emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases," the Commission says.

“Climate change is one of our biggest environmental challenges and a major threat to our economies," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "Our aim in bringing together key players and stakeholders during Green Week is not only to listen but also to try to move towards workable and cost-effective solutions, particularly in view of the further efforts that will be needed to achieve global reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases."

Some 200 speakers from Europe and around the world have been invited to the 20 conferences, workshops and talks that will explore different aspects of climate change, and in total around 4,000 participants are expected.


Europeans want to avoid a repetition of the record heat in the summer of 2003 that touched off devastating fires like this one in Portugal. (Photo credit unknown)
Green Week encourages everyone to "think aloud" about how we can all change our environmental behavior, the Commission says. It is aimed at local, regional and national decisionmakers, businesses, nongovernmental organizations and the general public.

Green Week speakers include European Commission Vice-President and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot; Ambassador of Japan to the EU Kazuo Asakai, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Joke Waller-Hunter, and Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert.

Giving Green Week a pan-European dimension, parallel Green Days will be held in member states focusing on urban environmental issues, endangered species, and business and environment issues.

Full day conferences will focus on two topical climate issues. One will evaluate the pioneering EU Emissions Trading Scheme, launched on January 1, and look at how it could be further developed.

Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation will be the subject of the other full-day conference. This will help to inform a Communication on this topic that the Commission plans to issue in the summer.


Climate warming means drought for many European farmers. (Photo courtesy Plantstress)
Green Week sessions will also look at climate change from a wide variety of other angles, including the low-carbon economy of the future, how broadcasters cover climate change and how far nature will be able to adapt to rising temperatures.

One forum will bring together politicians from Europe and the United States to look at political ambitions on each side of the Atlantic.

Green Week will also be the venue for the first Brussels showing of a major international exhibition of photographs on climate change commissioned by the British Council and The Climate Group, called NorthSouthEastWest: A 360° View of Climate Change. The world's largest communications project on an environmental issue, this outdoor exhibition captures images from around the world to illustrate the impacts of climate change, and the solutions which communities are implementing to reduce carbon emissions.

Children will take the stage at an award ceremony on June 3 for the best drawings, paintings and video films on climate change entered by 6-16 year-olds in the Green Week schools competition.

Besides these events, Green Week features an exhibition where 70 institutions and stakeholders from around the European Union will showcase their projects and partnerships and share best practices.

The Commission intends to make Green Week 2005 climate neutral by investing in schemes to compensate for the emissions it generates and by inviting participants to do the same.