28/09/2013 17:53 BST | Updated 28/11/2013 05:12 GMT

The Week That Was: A Climate for Change

This week's blog comes direct from my parents' kitchen table, where I'm holed up away from the real world, catching up on sleep, home-cooked food and fresh countryside air.

When we first moved to this house, some twenty years ago, my constant companion was a Friends of the Earth book, which if I remember rightly was entitled How to Save the World, and came printed on the kind of grey recycled paper that had the consistency of dried semolina.

Remember Friends of the Earth? Time was you couldn't open a newspaper, turn on the TV or (I was going to type, log onto a news website, except news websites barely existed in those days, so let's go with) switch on the radio without hearing from their charismatic leader Jonathan Porritt (I had to Google his surname, so long has it been since I heard him speak).

His message: go green, or the world stops turning. And for a while that message struck home, it was even cool to be green a few years back. Then the worldwide recession hit, and suddenly we all stopped caring quite so much about saving the world, and started worrying more about keeping our jobs, feeding our families and maintaining a roof over our heads.

Do 12-year-olds nag their parents to put a brick in the toilet cistern to decrease the amount of water we're flushing away anymore? I have no idea, not knowing many 12-year-olds. If the columnists are to be believed, the girls at least are far more concerned about becoming the next Kim Kardashian than water shortages.

And yet, this week, 'green' is back on the menu. That much was clear from my taxi ride back to the train station after a day at the Labour party conference in Brighton (yes, I should have walked, I'm feeling guilty just typing it).

Forget Ed's speech, my driver was far more concerned about the Green Party's plans to reduce speed limits in the town to such a level it would, in his opinion, increase carbon emissions rather than lower them. I can't speak for the validity of his complaints, but when I asked what he thought about lowering the voting age to 16, the main concern was that young people would be more likely to vote Green than their parents; which in his book at least was a very bad thing.

I'm all for lowering the voting age. Studies show time and again that if you vote the first time you're eligible, you're far more likely to continue voting through the years. Catch the population young, when they're still at school with a teacher urging them to get out and vote, making it a class trip if need be, and we'd have a population mobilised to hold governments to account.

I digress. From one man's opinion in Brighton, to that of 259 individuals in Stockholm, and the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The short summary of what was itself a 33-page summary document: sea levels are rising faster than previously thought; humans are "extremely likely" to blame for temperature increases; heat waves will continue and more frequently; winters will get colder.

In short, we cannot continue to ignore climate change.

Back in my recycled-paper-book-reading days, I can remember an article suggesting in the future all children would have to play inside giant clear-roofed domes, rather than outside, so fierce would be the sun's rays.

That may not have come to pass (yet), but one only need recall the horrific natural disasters that have struck the planet in the past few years to acknowledge climate change is indeed a terrifying and real fact.

William Hague said this week that there needed to be action, and that "governments, businesses and individuals" all have a responsibility to play their part.

Changing the voting age might not be a quick answer, but engaging today's youth can't be a bad place to start.