floodingAs part of our Debating Europe Schools initiative we regularly take questions from students and put them to European and international leaders. So, last week, we did exactly that when we put three student questions about climate change to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during an event co-hosted with our sister think tank, Friends of Europe. You can watch the full video from the event here, but we’ve also taken Ban Ki-moon’s responses to the students and posted the videos below.

During his speech, Ban Ki-moon said that world leaders are “narrow-mindedly looking at national agendas” and will regret neglecting the climate. He also warned that governments are running out of time to come to an agreement, and they “cannot negotiate with nature.” Talks are currently taking place over an international climate change agreement to be signed at the Paris climate conference in 2015.

The first of our questions came from a student at the European School of Brussels, who wanted to know if it would really be possible to reach an agreement between so many different countries:
Our next question was sent in by Christian from the Business Academy Aarhus in Denmark. He wanted to know what Ban Ki-moon would do if he were 20 years old and wanted to help protect the environment:
Finally, we had a question from a student from Finland who asked what Ban Ki-moon would say to all the people who are still sceptical about climate change:
Will the international community be able to reach an ambitious agreement on climate change before it’s too late? What can young people do to help raise the environment to the top of the policy agenda? And can anything convince climate change sceptics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Akuppa John Wigham

57 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    It should, because otherwise there will not be a world to disagree on!

    • avatar

      Nicely put. But I don’t think we won’t have any warning. Or maybe this is the warning and we’re not getting it!

  2. avatar
    Eric de Haan

    Meanwhile there are closed door talks between US and EU on a trade agreement TTIP that can have negative effects for environmental issues like CC and other fields !

  3. avatar
    Stephane Czajkowski

    There has been some progress in Europe on that topic, but it is well known that Euro deputies are corrupted by the lobbyists of the fossil energies. Once again – hypocrisy

    • avatar


  4. avatar
    Andrew Potts

    No it will be a case of prising the car keys from their cold dead hand.
    Just look at the cars they get bigger, heavier and more powerful yet ask about climate and the same people will say its important

  5. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Alguns especialistas em clima temem que com a mudança climática estas condições podem tornar-se mais frequentes juntamente com o aumento da seca cooperação transatlântica de soluções sustentável nas area do ambiente

  6. avatar
    Stephen Corcoran

    Now what if there is nothing we can do ? What if this is a natural thing ? A cosmic season and we just have to accept the climate will change and aways has ? Floods and freezes like summer and winter ? The earth can cope with this as she has before we where here ? My concern is that we are killing our selfs at close hand with our addiction to petroleum ? Killing our kids slowly in our homes and city streets ? With the plastic petroleum world we live ? Let’s look at that rather than the worlds climate ! Let’s look local right in the home and change what we use what we surround our selfs in ! Then we may just have a chance as humans ! Rant over lol

    • avatar

      … I think that is why we are fussing. The EARTH and the ecosystem will be FINE; it’s just us. And a tiny bit of amity consideration for the immediate future of the world. But yes. You may want to look up Gaia Theory, but personally I think that makes as much sense as not believing in evolution. Outdated, outspoken but still a little murky “evidence” (there’s one archaeoptryx. find me a mermaid and a centaur)

    • avatar
      Meshack Ramuhulu

      I support you. well said!

  7. avatar
    Cătălin Vasile

    As long as the politicians and governments are dependent on multinational corporations with their own agendas, we can be more than sure that even if the states representatives come to an agreement accepted by all the governments and Parliaments of the attending States the ideas will remain to the level of ideas and wishes! I pray to be wrong but there are so many conferences, meeting and forums in the recent history with no true change!

  8. avatar
    Lfb Uk

    Does climate change? Yes, obviously it does. The UK was once under a glacier, we had a medieval warm spell, when grapes for wine were grown as far north as Yorkshire. Do I believe we are under threat of man made global warming? NO, is CO2 responsible? NO! “When science is settled” is the mantra of the warming fanatics, any real scientist will tell you it is never settled! It’s pure scaremongering and being used to rob and thieve people’s money!

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      So 97% of scientists = “not settled” to you?
      I guess you prefer those “independent” Koch funded “studies” then?

    • avatar

      Don’t be mean Limbidis. She/He/They has/have (sorry) a point; it’s not just CO2 its also H2O and methane
      No but seriously yes we could be going out of a minor ice age or going into a tropical thingy (dunno wut its called)

  9. avatar

    The planet is in equilibrium with the sun; it releases very similar levels of heat radiation into space that it receives from the sun. The sun goes through fazes of activity that creates natural climate change. The issue is humanity producing energy directly / indirectly that disrupts the balance. CO2 really has very little to do with it as it acts both as a warmer and a coolant, know body really knows the net of that, but very likely its marginal. With this knowledge it makes very little difference whether the energy is of fossil or fission. The big question is how much does our huge global population and the energy we consume effect temperatures. It will have an effect, how big an effect I don’t know. Either way, regardless of the effect on temperature, our huge population has many more significant desecrating effects on the environment, through resources, waist, urbanisation and destruction of wildernesses. The real fundamental issue, is that of over population, having less children is the solution but its an extremely long one, in the meantime the environment continues to suffer at a growing rate.

    To bring the focus to the EU, one of the most densely populated and highest energy / resource consuming regions of the world. We need to look at two main factors; a two child policy and a dramatic reduction on immigration, especially from Islamic regions where birthrates are very high.

    • avatar

      Yes the climate does change due to fluctions in solar activity! However, there is a lot of evidence linking climate change to man-made CO2 emissions. I will disagree on your energy sourcing comment, switching to nuclear would be far better than continuing to rely on fossil fuels.

      Fossil fuels for one are depleting, secondly they produce huge amounts of pollutants and lastly makes us europeans dependent on less stable nations & economies that put us in very fragile diplomatic positions such as the one recently faced with Russia that is our main supplier of natural gas. Nuclear would provide a temporary way to reduce pollution and would switch our dependence on energy to hopefully more stable nations & economies.

      Despite this I do agree with the rest of the message in your comment.

    • avatar

      Oh yeah we’ve been talking about global warming but we need to think about forest and habitat deterioation and resources and stuff!!!
      I don’t know I think we will survive. I an’t imagine us being stupid or not being enough (that make sense?) to survive. But it’s reall how much we actually care that I’m worried about; I can’t imagine the whole human race working togetgher to survive as homo sapiens sapiens when the time comes! or maybe we can do enough to ensure it doesn’t? It’s up to us

  10. avatar
    Gary Woodhouse Ⓥ

    97% of scientists agree that the climate is changing due to humans. 3% disagree. People love a good disagreement…. but when our only home is at stake we should air on the side of caution!

  11. avatar
    Jaroslav Kuna

    Planting more trees, recycling more, eat food more locally, use electric cars more, AND listen to current green (or rather for taxpayers’ money greedy) propaganda less.

  12. avatar
    Paul X

    Well the EU cant even reach an agreement on which country the parliament should sit so what hope is there…?

  13. avatar

    No, it won’t change. Not from politicians anyway and not willingly from the population either.

    And here’s why:
    Politicians answer to big money, the rich and the corporations who have all the systemic interest to deny it. The system they are in ( capitalism ) forces them to be ruthless – in regard of even human survival it seems – to make profits.
    And if they are not, they are replaced so they are trapped in a kind of institutionalized paradox.

    Now here’s why the population won’t change:
    A) We are talking of reducing our carbon footprint. While some people may accept to switch to an electric car..FEW will switch to a bicycle or even WALKING.
    And that’s the level we would need to go at, at this critical stage.
    We waited too long , electric cars won’t do anymore.

    B) Say the population of Europe accepts this ‘downgrade’ in mobility.
    Electric infrastructure is built at a huge speed ( don’t count on it ) and we go green 100% in , say…5 years.
    Say by a super-miracle, the US does it too.
    That still won’t change anything as China’s rising economy needs more and more energy…which, idiotically, they get from the most polluting fuel ever – COAL.
    Beijing 2014:

    And no, that’s NOT “fog”, that’s smog from the INSANE pollution.
    And they have no choice but to go further. Economic growth DEMANDS it.
    If they stop, their economy stops, if their economy stops, millions of people will go unemployed and all the protests in the EU and US combined will PALE in comparisson to what will follow.
    China is building green tech, but not fast enough. This economic system won’t ALLOW it to build fast enough.

    So all in all?
    Yeah, we’re pretty much screwed. Hey, it’s been a fun ride for humanity…or should i say for LIFE on the planet, but we managed to put an end to that.
    Doing what we do best.

    • avatar

      How succintly and depressingly put. But yes, fundamentally “true”, or a version of how things could go. I think you’re overestimating two things though; the “critical stage” isn’t THAT critical yet (we’re not dropping dead) and China… well it is China so maybe you didn’t overestimate that.
      But Coal may beome clean
      read national geographic article “Can Coal Ever Be Clean?”

  14. avatar
    Gary Meads

    Well said Lfb UK it’s the biggest scam in history . May I respectfully suggest , that the climate change brigade , go and live in China or India or Brazil and start their winging over there .

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      97% of scientists agree there is warming and that WE are causing it.
      Care to explain to everyone on what do you base your DENIAL?

    • avatar

      Don’t be mean Limbidis! Maybe because most of them work for the government/in government funded labs/in schools???

  15. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Climate change is real!
    Human caused climate change is even more real!
    And if you do not believe science, who do you believe?
    Or the idiotic bunch that our media has become?

    • avatar

      That was amazing… until you realize there’s a typo. And that some poeple in there do actually talk about gw in a REAL! way.

  16. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Climate change is real!
    Human caused climate change is even more real!
    And if you do not believe science, who do you believe?
    Or the idiotic bunch that our media has become?

    • avatar

      Climate change is real.

      Man-made climate change is a fiction perpetuated by those who seek massive amounts of money to enrich themselves (Al ‘carbon credits’ Gore and his ilk).

      Psssttt…. interested in buying some hot air?

    • avatar

      Anthropogenic climate change enjoys as close to scientific consensus as is possible. Academics strive for objectivity and humility in their research and get paid for it whether the link between human emissions and climate perturbations is there or not.
      The ‘science’ that attempts to fill the void of the skeptics’ arguments is usually inherently flawed, not peer assessed and largely funded by individuals/organisations that have a lot to lose should we start taking significant steps to curtail emissions.
      There will always be people looking to make money out of a bad situation (you’re right the carbon credits market was created by a couple of them), but in this case they aren’t the ones driving the issue and it is those that stand in the way of human progress that stand to profit.

  17. avatar
    Sophia-Maria Prentou

    I don’t believe that the world leaders will anytime soon decide on an agreement on climate change. Unfortunately, as long as the Kyoto Protocol isn’t ratified by all, there will be examples like Tuvalu which is threatened by the rising sea levels which in turn are attributed to climate change. Also despite opposition expressed by the scientific community, so far in the matters of policy making the things are considered differently; the big oil companies and the OPEC countries are the most powerful players in the game…

  18. avatar
    Marco Silva

    I’ve sent you a message Nando Aidos, Sophia-Maria Prentou. Please check you ‘Other folder’.

  19. avatar

    The responses to climate change so far categorise the incredibly short-term outlook that our species tends towards (even though this is exactly what is supposed to differentiate us). It makes me proud that Europe has in the past driven this issue and pioneered legislation and long may it continue but we need a global effort. All I would say to anyone skeptical about the science is, even if you don’t believe that our CO2 emissions can/will change the climate and have a detrimental impact, changing our waste streams, closing resource loops and sourcing energy from renewable sources is just about being more efficient on a planet with finite resources. It just makes sense.

    • avatar
      Jim Young

      As kids we were taught that Trees emit Oxygen in daytime and absorb Carbon Dioxide at night; so what does man do, Cut down trees, an example we all know of; The Amazon; once described a the lungs of the planet; and man cuts down trees; madness and unless we Stop, we will pay for this severely.

  20. avatar
    Guilherme Magalhães

    Yes, it must, otherwise the future will be really dark. In the Human society, big problems are not the priority, in places like Europe and most of the develop countries, economy is the focus of the governments and the biggest people’s interest. But if there is something he have learned from history, is that in the most difficult times, we are obligated to change, to adapt fast. I hope our politicians understand that this is the biggest threat our specie has ever faced and if we don’t act fast, even if it doesn’t affect us now, it will affect the future generations and the well-being of all humans. Rejecting the adaptations we need to make, is denying a proper future to humanity and than rejecting ourselves as humans!

  21. avatar

    You cannot change, slow, speed up or alter a natural phenomenon.

    Adapt to the climate or die, because we cannot stop it.

    • avatar

      Marcel I replied to your comment above whereas perhaps I should have replied to this. Our understanding of the atmosphere and our impact on the Earth is both advanced and infantile at the same time. We are lucky that the science of radiative forcing caused by human emissions that will result in an average planetary warming is relatively simple to understand; how this will effect, for example precipitation regimes is still subject to a large amount of uncertainty.
      Where we agree is that we do have to adapt, perhaps not because it is beyond our control to slow down or halt changes but because change is inevitable and already happening due to historic human emissions of greenhouse gases.

    • avatar

      Except if it isn’t a natural phenomenon, the correlation (although it doesn’t prove cause) between average temperature rise and atmospheric CO2 is there and is very real and there’s plenty of other evidence to suggest there is human influence! There being human influence the outcome can be changed and this has been shown through models. Of course this means big change and a fair amount of adapting to new conditions!

  22. avatar

    The agreement should be on the fact that there is no man-made global warming. Further, there is no global warming at all at this time, man-made or otherwise. Forget about scientist and get out of your home: is it so warm? Not where I am. We had a mild winter in Romania, but America froze.
    Last summer in mid-July, with sunny weather, I was unable to sunbathe on the Romanian seaside because it was too cold and windy, I had to wear a T-shirt. The Black sea water was also cold.
    We had plenty of cold winters in the last years.
    There is no warming, no scientist will convince me that I’m warm while my own senses are telling me that I’m cold.

  23. avatar

    This will be a very difficult and daunting task, however, the question should not be will we ever come to an agreement on it but rather will the required measures and agreements be made to mitigate climate change. Ban Ki-moon is right in that it is up to us to pressure our politicians to discuss topics concerning climate change and to press for the required global measures. It is time we wake up, climate change is no longer about the if’s and but’s but rather about what action are we going to implement to mitigate it.

  24. avatar
    abebe azanaw-ethiopia

    Banki-moon, why are you siding to the West? you are playing out of your role. Think of the Palestinians in gaza, they are not criminals; even it would be better if you awaken the ICC to do its job right now, this is the right time the ICC is needed to act! I will correct my misunderstanding about the ICC as a confused, and anti-african organization.

  25. avatar

    True, why don’t we suggest as a topic? But meanwile, we’ve digressed so much from the original topic (bet you that you can’t remember what it is without looking at it :)). I don’t think the whole world will, but enough of it will for there to be a referendum of some sort or other, in developed countries. There could be a project (government funded to start it off, but voluntary) to err… save the enviornment (please please please excuse THAT cliche…)

  26. avatar

    When will the world realize that we are all one and come together as a family would in crisis. Communication in this world is part of the problem if not all. We often say the same thing but it is not seen that way. Climate change must be dealt with………….not tomorrow, but NOW. If you are of a sane mine, you won’t allow politics to interfere with sound thinking.

    • avatar
      Jim Young

      In Britain we are now watching Spring watch; a nature program and to our shock Hedgehogs are near to extinction within ten years. How have we missed this, who is to blame; the finger points directly it seems to Brussels, Farmers told to destroy Apply Orchards, destroy hedgerows, open up fields to; by comparison to what we had; mega fields and thereby in doing so, destroying our eco structure all this for me being a short term idea with huge consequencies, loss of plant, animal and bird life…It has to stop, we share this planet with other creatures who have just as much right to life as we do. Shocking it is that we are already losing the battle to save thousands of species, most of whom have been lost due to Man the most destructive animal on the planet.

  27. avatar
    Jim Young

    Climate change, for years while we in Britain washed out bottles and folded out cardboard and got into the car and drove to the rubbish collection points, CHINA was activating one coal fired power station a month. While this went on the West said nothing and did nothing, China after all had the biggest stick.

    Climate change; the planet moves through its own cycles ad yes we must be having some affect on global changes, when I look at NASA’s view of our colourful and wonderful blue marbel in space; a grain of sand in the Sahara desert, our atmosphere is but the thickness of an Apple Skin; so precious; that is what we live in, what we breath and without it was are DEAD, it is as simple as that, so yes we must wash and recycle; it may be an uphill struggle; for we just cannot afford to stop. Let’s face it, we have nowhere else to go or a long long long time, so everyone let’s look afte our little grain of sand for without it we will not exist.

    • avatar
      Jim Young

      My apologies for missing characters.

  28. avatar
    Jim Young

    Climate Change and disasters; take the Phillipines; Mahogany, felling of trees, mud slides all created by Man.

    The Amazon, the Lungs of the planet we were once told, desecrated, slaughtered for profit while we look. I remember watching a film with Sean Connery; in the Amazon, a moral if ever there was one, natures pharmacy if ever there was one, an area on the planet that I believe was put there for mankind to discover plants and other entitities that could save mankind, now being razed to the ground, lost remedies for mankind’s illnesses. Dreaming, yes indeed, but fact, so we must stop cutting down those trees and plants; for one day they may well save your life.

  29. avatar
    John Kelly

    Climate change is constant fact in an ever changing world, it is however a natural cyclical event that happens every now and then, there are times when the climate warms(Optimum’s) and times when the climate cools down(minimums). The Roman optimum saw global temperatures in the northern hemisphere rise high enough for vineyards to flourish as far north as Hadrian’s wall on the Scottish borders something not possible in that region since the third century AD, since there was no industrialisation at that time and certainly no cars trains or planes to produce enhanced Co2 emissions at that time, so what could have caused global warming? Simply the effects of radiated solar energy which we call the Sun, it is this same celestial orb that has always controlled our climate.
    The false science of the global warming alarmists which claims that anthropogenic emissions of Co2 have caused global warming defy the basic laws of physics that the release is Co2 into the atmosphere is a lagging reactive that follows temperature rises, while the IPCC in India which is headed by an expert in railway engineering continues to put the cart before the horse scientifically. The consequence of this is the biggest lie ever told to the gullible masses of mankind.

  30. avatar

    I think that finding a solution is the ‘easier’ part of trying to stop or at least slow down climate change. The problem lays within countries who are not really willing to put effort in the agreement. I think many people will always make other priorities instead of beating climate change, until it is too late. I see a lot of people from my age (19-20 years old) who are taking part in politics and who have a new perspective on issues such as climate change. The older politicians are being replaced by a new generation. I think the young people are more open minded and have a different view on topics like climate change, migrations and integration etc.

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