Earth Day 2015 & the Paris Summit

Today is Earth Day, a day set aside each year to reflect on the state of Earth. Information about the Earth Day network is here.

Today also sees the Earth League publish its Paris Statement, a statement of the eight essential elements of the Paris Summit (Climate Change) to agree on in December. Information about the Earth League is here.

Earth League Statement – the full statement is here.

“Eight Essential Elements of Climate Action in Paris

  1. 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. However, we are currently on a path to around 4°C warming by 2100, which would create unmanageable environmental challenges. If we do not act now, there is even a 1 in 10 risk of going beyond 6°C by 2100. We would surely not accept such a high risk of disaster in other realms of society. As a comparison, such a 1 in 10 probability is the equivalent of tolerating about 10,000 airplane crashes every day worldwide!

  2. The remaining global carbon budget – the limit of what we can still emit in the future –­ must be well below 1000 Gt CO2 to have a reasonable chance to hold the 2°C line. Humankind has already emitted around 2000 Gt CO2 since the beginning of industrialization. Respecting the global carbon budget means leaving at least three quarters of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. With current emissions trends, the remaining 1000 Gt CO2 would be used up within the next 25 years.

  3. We need to fundamentally transform the economy and adopt a global goal to phase out greenhouse gases completely by mid-­century. Deep decarbonization, starting immediately and leading to a zero-­carbon society by 2050 or shortly thereafter, is key to future prosperity. This long-­term goal, paired with strong national commitments, including a price on carbon, and a possibility to ramp up ambition via regular reviews, are essential elements of the Paris agreement. Fossil fuel subsidies should be removed urgently, and investment should be redirected to spark a global renewable energy revolution, warranting energy access for all and particularly for those most in need.

  4. Equity is critical for a successful global agreement in Paris. Every country must formulate an emissions pathway consistent with deep decarbonization. For the sake of fairness, rich countries and progressive industries can and should take the lead and decarbonize well before mid-­century. Developing countries should formulate plans far beyond what they can be expected to pursue on their own, reaping benefits from leapfrogging into a sustainable economy, well supported by international climate finance and technology access. Safeguarding the right to development of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is fundamental.

  5. We must unleash a wave of climate innovation for the global good, and enable universal access to the solutions we already have. The unprecedented challenge of climate change requires unprecedented technological advances. We need targeted research, development, demonstration and diffusion (RDD&D) of low-­carbon energy systems and sustainable land use, and capacity building to enhance access for those most in need. International cooperation, stringent laws and standards, public and private investments and clear economic incentives are all crucial steps in the global transition.

  6. We need a global strategy to reduce vulnerability, build resilience and deal with loss and damage of communities from climate impacts, including collective action and scaled-­up support. With 1°C of warming already having taken place, many societies are challenged by water scarcity, shifting rain patterns and other impacts. This poses a threat to human development in all countries, particularly among the poorest and most vulnerable. A 2°C or more warming of the planet would impose huge social and economic burdens that need to be shouldered through international solidarity.

  7. We must safeguard carbon sinks and vital ecosystems, which is as important for climate protection as the reduction of emissions. Cutting down forests and degrading grasslands and aquatic systems is like killing our best allies in the fight against climate change. A precondition for sustainability is the strengthening, not the weakening of the resilience of natural and managed ecosystems and food production systems.

  8. We must urgently realize new scales and sources of climate finance for developing countries to enable our rapid transition to zero-­carbonclimate-­resilient societies. This includes additional public funding for mitigation and adaptation at a level at least comparable to current global ODA (around 135 billion USD p.a.). Innovative schemes such as globally funded renewable energy feed-­in tariffs are required. The private sector must be encouraged to mobilize substantially larger sums. Governments should engage with banks and pension funds, enabling a shift to  climate-­friendly investments. Global and national climate funding must be effective, transparent and accountable.”

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