With less than 100 days to go until the United Nations conference on climate change this fall in Paris, the need for action has never been so urgent. Every day of unchecked pollution, deforestation and fossil fuel dependency brings us closer to an unlivable planet. We are all too close to a tipping point beyond which climate change becomes like a runaway train. Every nation must be prepared to take strong action to address the crisis facing us as one earth family.
To this end, prominent leaders from the worlds of business, politics, faith, entertainment and civil society, including Al Gore, Richard Branson, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Arianna Huffington and Russell Brand, have joined in a call for courageous action by world leaders to deliver an equitable, ambitious and science-based global climate agreement in Paris in December. The call is the Earth Statement. This statement sets out eight essential elements for a climate agreement at the UN, summarized below:
Governments must put into practice their commitment to limit global warming to below 2°C. We should aim to stay as far below it as possible, since even 2°C warming will cause significant damage and disruption. Our current trajectory is towards 4ºC warming.
The remaining global carbon budget – the limit of what we can still emit in the future – must be well below 1000 gigatonnes of CO2 to have a reasonable chance to hold the 2°C line. This means leaving at least three quarters of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
The global economy must phase out greenhouse gases completely by mid-century, removing fossil fuel subsidies immediately and redirecting investment to renewable energy.
Every country must come up with their own strategy to get off carbon. Rich countries can and should take the lead to get off carbon well before mid-century. Developing countries should set plans beyond their own capacity, supported by international climate finance.
Governments and business should invest in unprecedented technological advances to innovate climate solutions.
We need a global strategy to reduce vulnerability, build resilience and deal with loss and damage of communities from climate impacts. The damage has already begun. Even a 2º C warming will impose social and economic burdens, particularly among the poorest and most vulnerable.
Forests and ecosystems must be strengthened and protected.
We need much more climate finance for developing countries to transition to zero carbon. Global and national climate funding must be effective, transparent and accountable.
We strongly urge you to read the statement in full at the link above, written by the 17 scientists and economists who make up the Earth League, and then sign and share it widely.
For those who would contend that a rapid and drastic shift of the global economy away from carbon could kill jobs and harm economic growth, consider this: if climate change remains unchecked, natural disasters and global warming will do far more to kill jobs and incapacitate economies in the decades to come. There can be no consideration of a bottom line that prioritizes the status quo over the health of our planet. Our climate is in crisis and we are running out of time to stop the damage. If we do not change course, and strongly, there may not be an economy to grow by the time our grandchildren have grandchildren. Taking strong action now is like taking a bitter but much needed medicine.
Moreover, the cost of renewable energy continues to come down. We may well find that the medicine is not as bitter as we feared.
To further inform and equip yourself to activate on this crucial issue, if you can get to Miami, consider applying for the Climate Reality Leadership Training taking place September 28-30 with Al Gore. Applications are open until September 4. If not, and if you can get to New York, consider participating in the events of Climate Week NYC September 21-28 in New York City. Wherever in the world you are, there may be a trained Climate Reality Leader who can give a presentation to your group or office. You can request a presentation through the Climate Reality Project. And wherever you are, please sign the Live Earth Road to Paris petition at liveearth.org.