The urgency of global warming mandates that each and every one of us become climate leaders. For the first time in our lives, indeed for the first time in history, all of us must take responsibility for our climate, whether at the individual, community, company, institution, state, or national level. We are all responsible for global warming. We must all share in the leadership required to solve it, for nothing less than the fate of human civilization is at stake. The crisis is that stark, the choice is that clear, the leadership required is that urgent.
If we rise to this challenge, if we take climate leadership, we will generate climate prosperity because it is precisely our capacity to solve our greatest crisis that affords us our greatest opportunities for growth within the context of sustainability and alignment with natural systems.
Our 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign has a number of components. All these themes are integral to our 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign and constitute what we consider to be essential aspects of leadership on the issue of climate change. The themes, detailed below, include:
- “2050 by 2020” Call to Action
- Planning for 2020
- Developing on line collaboration
- Brazil 2020 Campaign
- Timeline for first year
1. “2050 by 2020” Call to Action
At the heart of our 2020 Climate Leadership Campaignand the purpose of the of the Brazil 2020 Campaign is resolving the contradiction between what our governments are negotiating and what our scientists are asserting about the accelerating pace of global warming. This is why climate leadership is so crucial. Our scientists are telling us that we are rapidly running out of time to take decisive action. Yet our governments are acting as if they have the next forty years to reduce carbon emissions by 80% — promising to solve the problem by 2050. This is what the Copenhagen negotiations are all about — taking the next forty years to do what scientists tell us we need to do in the next ten.
In the meantime, CO2 emissions continue to increase and are projected in most 2050 scenarios to continue rising until they peak at around 2030. This basically allows business as usual for another twenty years. In the meantime, we are spewing into the atmosphere 70 million tons of CO2 each and every day and in fact put into the atmosphere more CO2 in 2008 than any previous year. The more our scientists discover about global warming, the more urgent the situation becomes and the more immediate the timeframe for serious action. The current world situation with regard to climate change is worse than the worst cast scenario of the IPCC in its 2007 Report.
Even more troubling is the fact that even if the governments are successful in reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, this accomplishment would be essentially irrelevant to dealing with global warming in any meaningful way. A recent study by MIT states that if all the governments completely fulfill their current promises, which essentially are pointed toward reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, we will have reached over 600 ppm of CO2 by then and global temperatures will have risen at least 4 degrees Celsius.
This contradiction between what the governments are negotiating and what the science says is the most crucial fact in the climate change crisis today. According to the 2006 Stern report and numerous other models, a rise of 4 degrees Celsius would put hundreds of millions of people at risk of coastal flooding each year with sea level rises of up to 25 meters. There would be dramatic reductions in water availability and increased droughts around the world. A 4C rise would lead to the loss of 85% of the Amazon rainforest, for example. Agricultural yields would radically decline and the world would face severe food shortages. Approximately 20%-50% of all animal and plant species would face extinction.
It is for these and other reasons that when he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri said “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” Thousands of scientists around the world agree. Lester Brown, who will keynote our conference, states bluntly that we are facing the demise of human civilization itself if we do not take action now.
Our leadership must be based on what is scientifically urgent, not on what is politically expedient. Thus our strategic intention and call is a very simple one:
What our governments are negotiating for 2050 must be accomplished by 2020 and we must all be prepared to demonstrate the climate leadership required to accomplish this.
We must somehow build a global coalition around reducing our carbon emissions by 80%, shifting the basis of our economies from fossil fuels to renewable energy and clean technologies, and reordering our lifestyles and life choices accordingly, all by 2020.
2. Planning for 2020
At the heart of what we must achieve through our Climate Leadership Campaign is to begin the process of discerning how to implement a viable pathway to reducing our carbon emissions by 80% by 2020 and doing so using available technologies and with the intent of producing prosperity and growth. We believe we can achieve a 2020 goal in a spirit of optimism and abundance. Our central thesis around 2020 is that our climate crisis is a climate opportunity and that by solving global warming in a decisive manner we will also solve our financial and economic woes and generate social and economic growth.
We believe that we can accomplish this goal using available technologies and innovative thinking. We are not in a crisis because we have no solutions. We are in a crisis because we are not implementing solutions already here.
What can and should unite us is a common goal of reducing carbon emissions by 2020. We believe this is the key goal because it is specifically the release of CO2 into the atmosphere that is causing global temperatures to rise, the ice caps to melt, the droughts to multiply, the seas to increase, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events to so dramatically increase.
How each of us gets to the goal of reducing CO2 emissions will be different. Each community, city, region and nation will have different challenges and constraints and thus any 2020 scenario will by definition be decentralized and highly diversified.Climate leadership will have many pathways, many forms, and many results. This is as it should be. Within the context of the clearly defined common goal of “2050 by 2020,” we believe as much creativity, diversity, celebration and collaboration as possible should be encouraged.
In thinking about climate leadership by 2020, we suggest the following seven “wedges” be considered as starting points which, when taken together, make the pathway to 2020 possible:
- Reducing reliance on fossil fuels
- Implementing energy efficiencies
- Creating clean technologies
- Developing renewable energy
- Cleaning up natural systems
- Creating sustainable lifestyles
- Establishing a culture of sustainable growth
You will note that the first five of these are what we can do and the last two are what we believe and how we live our lives. These have to do with our interiors. This is an important part of what we mean by “Climate Leadership.” Our leadership must be as personal as it must be public and affect our lifestyles as much as it affects public policy. We cannot reduce carbon emissions by 80% and develop climate prosperity by 2020 without coming to terms with the stark fact that our lifestyles and our cultural beliefs are as unsustainable as our corporate activities and our national policies. To deal decisively with global warming, we must take an integral approach which looks at our interiors as much as our exteriors, our beliefs as much as our actions. All aspects are integrally involved in both our crisis and our solution. We will thus be using an integral framework as the operating system of our 2020 scenario planning. Climate leadership must be integral leadership.
3. Long Term Online Collaboration
In addition to exploring the imperative of “2050 by 2020” and beginning work on developing 2020 Climate Leadership Campaigns, a third crucial aspect of our conference will be how we can come together on line so that we can continue to share information and collaborate beyond the conference itself. What we are launching is a ten year initiative and thus must have a way to stay together, build momentum, and spread the word.
In this endeavor, we have partnered with the Gaiasoftcorporation in the UK, which has pioneered a very sophisticated software to enable real time information sharing, active collaboration and project management. We have also partnered with the Hague Center in the Netherlands which has pioneered using the Gaiasoft technology in groups and developed “meshworks” of engagement and collaboration around interests of common concern.
4. Brazil 2020
What is also unique about our over-all 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign is the role Brazil is playing. While virtually all the countries in the world either dither or vaguely commit themselves to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, the country that seems poised to develop a national mobilization around climate leadership is Brazil. Brazil’s use of ethanol for cars is the highest in the world. Brazil already produces over 50% of all its energy from renewable sources, as opposed to 12% for the EU and 10% for the U.S. Its’ largest electric utility, Central Electric of Minas Gerais (CEMIG) generates 92% of its electricity from renewable sources and was determined by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the best energy company in the world in 2007.
Most importantly, Globo TV, the largest media company in Brazil and the fourth largest in the world, has committed itself to dealing seriously with global warming and is developing a sustained public education campaign on climate change. This marks the first Fortune 100 company anywhere in the world that we know of to do so, certainly the first major media company. The fact that Globo is launching a national public education campaign is a dramatic demonstration of climate leadership and may catalyze a mobilization that is national in scope. Given the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, national mobilizations are essential to plan for and to catalyze.
This kind of leadership is important because Brazil is not a small obscure country with little impact. It is one of the largest countries in the world, it is richly endowed with natural resources, its demographics are very similar to that of the world population, it is at peace with all its neighbors, its banks and its economy, though effected by the downturn in the global economy, are relatively stable and strong, and it contains the Amazon.
This is not to say that Brazil is already there. The government has shown little leadership on the issue of global warming and has tolerated, if not encouraged extensive clear cutting of the Amazon. There is also systemic exploitation of the general environment. But huge portions of Brazilian society are waking up and leaders in the Brazilian political, business and civil society sectors understand the urgency, are willing to take leadership, and are mobilizing around Brazil 2020 — a ten year plan to green the Brazilian economy. All these reasons make Brazil an ideal nation to take the kind of leadership the world needs at this critical hour.
It is in recognition of the important role Brazil can potentially play in the global effort to demonstrate climate leadership that State of the World Forum is launching its global 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Because the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign is a ten year campaign, State of the World Forum is committed to convening a series of major conferences in different world cities through 2020 as we build a global coalition around “2020 Climate Leadership Initiative.” Our August 4-7 State of the World Forum in Belo Horizonte served two purposes. It served as the actual launch of the global 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign with representatives from all over the world participating. It also served as the launch of the Brazil 2020 mobilization and representatives from media, civil society, the private sector and scientific institutions from all over Brazil gathered for our meeting as well. Thus there was both a global discussion as well as a specifically Brazilian component to the August event. A significant part of the conference was also to begin development of 2020 strategies with an emphasis on the innovative technologies and lifestyle changes that can get us there successfully.
In 2010, we will continue to build our presence in Brazil with an Amazon Climate Summit and a Climate Leadership Forum in Rio de Janeiro. 2020 Campaigns are also in development in Australia, Holland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Beyond 2010, we will work together to select other countries where Forums can be convened that will emphasize efforts toward sustainability and promote 2020 Climate Leadership Campaigns. All along the way, we will be building Climate Leadership Campaigns and holding our Forums wherever they will support and nurture national 2020 campaigns. The most likely candidates for the 2011 State of the World Forum are Melbourne, Australia, Mexico City, Mexico, or The Hague, Holland.
What we would stress in conclusion is that all of the above has emerged in the last four months and is thus very dynamic and subject to change as the world situation continues to unfold, the crisis of global warming escalates, and the necessity of climate leadership becomes more urgent. We believe our strategy is in alignment with both the crisis and the solution that needs to be implemented. We are way past ad hoc solutions. Given the enormity of the crisis, only national mobilizations and decisive time-sensitive climate leadership will suffice. We believe that what is evolving, as described above, satisfies both these two requirements of scale and timing, and we are would be honored to have you join our efforts. Climate Leadership is the clarion call of our time.