The recent UN Climate Change meeting in Durban, South Africa was in many ways the marmite of such events. Opinions are polarised on whether to love or hate the outcome.
DEFRA, the UK's environment ministry, was taken to the High Court by international environmental law firm ClientEarth over its failure to meet legal limits on air quality in 17 regions and cities across Britain. Whilst David Cameron would never be confused with Dan Quayle in terms of his environmental knowledge, it is time for him to match his awareness of the issues with the leadership we need to tackle this public health crisis. After all, don't we all have the right to take a stroll down our local high street in the knowledge it won't take years off our lives?
Here's a funny thing. It was possible to stay perfectly busy at the climate talks without going anywhere near the actual talks. This was not about sitting around gossiping over a cup of coffee, although there seemed to be plenty of that going on. Nor was it about dressing up as a polar bear or a lump of coal and waving placards outside.
Businesses have a responsibility to protect their staff in flood-prone regions, and also safeguard their assets so profits are not needlessly lost due to extreme weather events. In addition, individuals need to take some responsibility - flooding can affect anyone, and there are simple measures to take to ensure your home and belongings are safe from this uncertain future.
Whether we like it or not, alternative energy sources must be invested in. The 'green' issue cannot be ignored just because the world's economy is in freefall and we're all distracted by whether there will be any money left to pay our pensions or not. Now is the time to put pressure on our MPs and government to tackle these issues and, while we look to them to take the big steps, we must remember our responsibility to all the little steps - even those that require more effort than sorting the plastic bottles and newspapers into different coloured bins.
We've had nearly 20 years of negotiations under the UN Climate Convention, and this is now the seventh year that countries have met to discuss ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions after 2012. The pledges currently on the table are so weak they will lead to 5°C global warming that will cause catastrophic climate change threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. How did it come to this?
As governments gather in Durban for the annual UN climate change conference, climate change is worryingly low down the international agenda. This is perhaps not surprising given the turmoil in the global economy. However, the stakes at Durban are very high. The meeting is the last real opportunity for governments to provide certainty on the future of the Kyoto Protocol and lay out a path to a future global climate agreement.
Governments can hardly claim they haven't been warned. In the last few weeks, four pieces of news have landed on their desks that ought to cause them grave concern. These weren't the latest growth rates or unemployment figures, or the latest credit rating agency downgrades. But they are every bit as worrying.