The UK government's 'International Conference on Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gases: Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change' got off to a frustrating start when 32 of the 200 invited scientists were unable to attend the first sessional meeting due to transport problems.
The conference, held at the Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, was expected to provide answers to some of the world's most pressing climate change problems, focusing on the problems of our carbon-hungry lifestyles, and advising how much and where we need to cut back.
In a bid to raise awareness of the individual responsibility of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, over three-quaters of UK-based scientists agreed to use only public transport to reach the conference destination. The press waiting to cover the story at Exeter station were not disappointed.
"We had allowed an extra hour in case of delays,' said Dr. Russel Fitzpatrick, of the Carbon Trust, 'but unforunately the train was 45 minutes late arriving into London due to signalling problems in the Newcastle area, and a defective carriage meant that we never went more than about 40 miles per hour.' The delayed scientists arrived in Exeter 1hour and 45 minutes behind schedule but elected to stick to their original plan to take a number 72 bus to the Hadley Centre.
Speaking on behalf of Devonshire county coucil's transport division, Clive Davies explained that the number 72 was presently running a 'special service' due to driver shortages, but that a concerted effort was made to get the scientists to their destination.
Jeremy Overmann, a DEFRA minister who flew to the conference from London Stansted, arrived with with plenty of time to hold an impromptu press conference; 'The development of Exeter airport has made inter-city travel within the area much cheaper, quicker and simpler,' he said when quizzed on his journey. When asked what he hoped the conference would achieve, he added 'we are highly committed to tackling climate change head-on, utilising the measures that will be set out over the next three days. This is a key conference for us to cement our understanding of the climate change issue'.