MORE than 150 people are expected to attend Chester Zoo’s first climate change conference this evening.And in line with the message of the event, there will be no printed hand-outs for delegates in a bid to keep the carbon footprint to a minimum.

They will, however, go away with something – each attendee will be given a packet of vegetable seeds.

The conference will also deliver the very serious message that we ignore climate change at our peril. The zoo is staging the event because, with 600 million people visiting zoos around the world each year, they have the potential to influence, educate and help make a difference.

Hosted by Chester Zoo’s director general, Prof Gordon McGregor Reid and Bristol Zoo Director, Dr Jo Gipps, the conference will pull together a panel of experts from across the region.

These include Dan Griffiths, head of climate change at NWDA, Paul Pearce-Kelly, senior curator at ZSL, Bill Chandler, director of legal services at event sponsors Hill Dickinson, and the deputy lord mayor of Chester, Cllr Neil Ritchie.

Decision makers from local and regional authorities will be invited to the Question Time-style event with topics including carbon reduction commitment, Green Palm certificates and Chester Zoo’s own environmental efforts.

Chester Zoo’s head of discovery and learning, Stephen McKeown, warned that the issue of climate change should be ignored at peril.

“There is an urgency around climate change and we need to raise awareness of that fact at local, regional and national levels.”

Panel member Cllr Neil Ritchie said: “This is a very important event for Chester. I would like to think that we will all come out of the conference with renewed conviction and know that we are all travelling in the same direction. The issue of climate change is not just about turning down thermostats, it’s about how we all live our lives.”

Bill Chandler director of legal services at Hill Dickinson added: “This conference is great for the zoo and great for the city. It will get coverage across the world and Chester Zoo will be seen to be at the forefront of spreading the word about climate change and starting some action. It is a fantastic opportunity. Chester Zoo is showing itself to be at the cutting edge on climate change.

“The challenge then will be what happens next and how we use this event as a springboard for action for the future.”

The free event starts at 6pm. For further information visit the website: