THE forthcoming international summit on climate change in Copenhagen must result in serious agreement to reduce harmful emissions.

Britain has about 1% of the world population and about 2% of the global carbon output. So we have a moral duty to set an example and also help other countries to achieve sustainable prosperity.

We are making progress – both in national policy and at community level – but it is too slow.

The shortage of political leadership and imagination is very frustrating. Environmentalism is often portrayed as a threat – especially by some newspapers – but the consequences of inaction are frequently ignored.

And environmental sustainability need not mean endless personal sacrifice. We must use limited resources more carefully and effectively, but green technologies can also provide us with new social and economic opportunities.

Meaningful negotiations must result in agreement with America and China, but this is an area where European countries can take a lead at driving forward change.

Meanwhile we all have a responsibility to think differently and creatively. There is insufficient political leadership, but that is not an excuse to do nothing. In our own communities we should have an intelligent approach to improving building standards and reducing waste.

The big political issues – the budget deficit, the terrorist threat and climate change – will not be addressed in just a few years. To tackle climate change we urgently need a long-term environmental vision to make our communities and our planet sustainable.