Senator Timothy E. Wirth, Vice Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Board of Directors and the lead U.S. negotiator on climate change from 1993 to 1997 as Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs under President Clinton, released the following statement today on the report by Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“For the fifth time in over 20 years, hundreds of scientists across the world have reviewed the entire body of knowledge on the physical science of climate change. They are now more certain than ever that climate change is real and that it’s caused by human activities – mostly the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.
“Once again, science is telling us that there are accelerated, human-caused changes to our atmosphere, oceans, and weather. This updated assessment considered all the new data – and tells us of irreversible and inevitable changes to the land, air, and water we rely on for our lives and livelihoods if we do not take effective and rapid action. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is a step in the right direction.
“Climate change is expected to produce weather events that are more extreme. This summer in my home in Boulder, Colorado, I heard trees exploding from spreading wildfires, and I saw flooding take away my neighbor’s house. The evidence is very real to me, and millions of Americans have shared similar experiences.
“Climate change is also a growing health threat. We have already seen an increase in asthma, infectious diseases, allergies, waterborne diseases, heat stress, and food insecurity. We have the moral responsibility to address these environmental changes not just for our generation, but for generations to come.
“Fortunately, it makes economic as well as environmental sense to transition the world’s energy systems to low-carbon alternatives. Clean energy technology is getting cheaper and cheaper as more people and governments adopt it. This energy transformation will be good for public health, job creation, and the environment.
“As a global community, we should encourage countries to compete with each other to be cleaner and more technologically advanced – and in the United States we need to keep up with the competition. We will all benefit from this race to the top.”
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.