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Climate change needs a global response

If nothing else, the extreme weather which hit the north of England and parts of Ireland at the weekend should concentrate minds currently grappling with the issue of climate change at the international conference in Paris.

There have been a series of weather events over recent weeks delivering strong winds and rain but the latest, Storm Desmond, has had the most severe impact.

Large areas of Cumbria and Lancashire were left under water, despite a multi-million pound investment in flood defences.

The situation in Northern Ireland has been on a different level but no less traumatic for those affected.

More than 20 roads had to be closed and a total of 24 people rescued following high winds and heavy rain across the north but particularly in counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

As well as householders seeing their homes inundated with water, traders in the Linen Green shopping centre in Moygashel, Co Tyrone have suffered a devastating blow in the run up to Christmas with stock ruined and around £1 million in total damage caused to businesses after a blocked culvert caused flooding.

Of course, at this time of year we are always likely to see stormy weather but the concern is that conditions are getting steadily worse, which is a major issue for future generations.

The Met Office's chief scientist, Dame Julia Slingo, said it was too early to determine a definitive cause for Storm Desmond but pointed out that the level of rainfall seen in Cumbria is ``seven times more likely than it would have been in a world without human-created greenhouse gases.''

Countries meeting in Paris need to agree on reducing carbon emissions to keep warming below the point at which dangerous climate change is expected.

Some progress has been made but clearly much more needs to be done to stabilise the climate and tackle a problem which has implications for every nation.

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