Twitter report: Chatham House climate change conference

By John Parnell

The London-based think tank Chatham House is perhaps most famous for the Rule named after it. Chatham House Rules dictate that while what is said during its debates and discussions maybe be reported, they cannot be attributed to the speaker of to the organisation they are affiliated to.

The idea is to promote frank and free discussions. This week UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and a host of other high-profile speakers gathered to have such a discussion.

Thanks to twitter, the comments of those choosing to forego the house rules were swiftly in the public domain.

Main sponsors Shell and Canadian Minister Kent drew protests from anti tar sands activists, unhappy with the company’s carbon intensive Athabasca tar sands operation in Alberta, Canada. They suggest that Shell and Canada have “strangled” opposition to the project.

The activists were even able to hand Minister Kent a flyer as he arrived at the venue…

Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent receives a flyer from a protester outside Chatham House. (Source:

Inside the conference, Connie Hedegaard suggested a new way of thinking to help account for the carbon emissions, beyond their economic impact.

The idea of a measure of development to replace the purely economic Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a nation was given tentative approval at the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in June.

While the presence of big oil and gas companies left some uncomfortable, there reminders from inside the summit of the potential role they could play in the future…

The protests from outside the event spilled indoors later in the session with both Minister Kent and Shell’s speeches interrpted by protesters.

If you want to know what Minister Kent actually said, his speech on Canada’s climate change efforts is available below…

Away from the protests, economist Dieter Helm reminded delegates of the importance of energy efficiency…

UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres laid her thoughts on the climate change “opportunity” and expressed optimism ahead of the next round of international climate change negotiations in Doha this November.

Day two of the conference takes place on Tuesday 16th October.

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