On Wednesday (April 22), in coincidence with the Earth Day, a group of 17 leading scientists and economists of the Earth League published a statement setting out eight elements that should be part of the new UN deal on climate change to be negotiated in Paris at the end of this year.
“Three times this year, world leaders will meet to set the course for decades to come” the 17 members of the Earth League wrote in the statement. “In July 2015, heads of state meet to discuss Financing for Development. In September 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be adopted. In December 2015, nations negotiate a new Global Climate Agreement. Decisions made in this single year will be the legacy of our generation. In particular, if we do not succeed in tackling climate change, the sustainable development goals, livelihoods in many parts of the world and the wellbeing of our close and distant kin will be threatened.”
Authors of the document include prominent scientists from around the world such as Nicholas Stern, Mario Molina, Jeffrey Sachs, Ottmar Edenhofer. According to the Earth League, religious personalities and representatives from international business and civili society also supported the appeal to policy-makers.
They call on world leaders to take eight specific points into account in order to achieve a climate agreement coinsistent with the goal of of avoiding dangerous consequences, such as “unmanageable sea-level rise”, “devastating heat waves, persistent droughts and unprecedented floods”. The eight key requirements are:
1. Limiting global temperature rise to 2°C by 2100
2. Respecting the remaining global carbon budget of 1000 Gt CO2 (1 trillion tons), which entails leaving “at least three quarters of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground”
3. A deep decarbonization path “starting immediately and leading to a zero-carbon society by 2050“, which includes a price on carbon and increasingly ambitious actions
4. An inclusive agreement of all countries, where equity, international climate finance and technology access are critical for getting in emerging and developing countries
5. 100% clean energy path which implies “unprecedented technological advances” in low-carbon energy systems and sustainable land use, as well as capacity building “to enhance access for those most in need”
6. Support for adaptation and Loss and Damage measures in developing countries
7. Safeguarding carbon sinks and vital ecosystems because “cutting down forests and degrading grasslands and aquatic systems is like killing our best allies in the fight against climate change”
8. Public funding for mitigation and adaptation “at a level at least comparable to” current global global development aid (around 135 billion USD p.a.), plus incentives for the private sector to “shift to climate-friendly investments“
Authors called 2015 “the year of opportunity”, as the goal of decarbonizing the global economy (by equitably sharing efforts) is “a chance too good to be missed” of creating “a new generation of jobs and industries, whilst enhancing the resilience of communities and people around the world”.
(Image: Mario Molina, member of the Earth League, and Al Gore at the Annual Meeting 2015 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January, 2015. Photo credit: WEF/swiss-image.ch/Photo Michael Bucholzer on Flickr)