Addressing climate change is one of humanity’s greatest and most pressing challenges. It is a challenge that we approach with both alarm and hope.
It is clear that the global risks are serious and must be addressed with great urgency. This year’s reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that human activities are altering the atmosphere, and the planet is warming. The diagnosis has been made, and the time for action is now. The world must agree on long-term commitments that will limit the rise in global temperature to 2o C, reducing emissions by 60 percent by 2050. Only bold commitment and courageous action on both mitigation and adaptation will slow the accumulating impacts of global warming and protect the world for future generations.
International agreement on an appropriate response has been elusive. Yet, after consultations with members of our task force – which includes six former heads of state and seven former heads of government, along with 12 leaders from business, government, and civil society, from more than 20 countries – we believe that a multilateral agreement is possible, based on the commonly agreed principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
Commitment and action is needed from all countries. Those that have contributed the most to the problem should take the lead. These efforts must be shared equitably on the basis of nations’ “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” and the actions need not be all alike.
Required is the transformation of the world’s energy systems, consistent with continued economic development, beginning with sharply increased emphasis on energy efficiency and clean energy choices, including solar, nuclear, wind, and biomass. Energy research and development must be strengthened and broadly shared. Clean energy technologies can be the engine that drives a new era of global economic growth and prosperity. The benefits will be significant for all countries, including the poorest countries, many of whose citizens lack the modern energy services they need to participate in today’s economy.
The poor will disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change, as their livelihoods more often depend on vulnerable natural systems. There will be a cost of action for mitigation and adaptation, but much higher is the cost of inaction.
The world’s financial institutions, including the World Bank and the regional development banks, must place climate change at the center of their work. Finance ministers must provide the resources and strengthen the financial incentives, both domestic and international, that are essential for a cost-effective response.
We urge today’s leaders from all countries and sectors to create and implement a new framework for addressing climate change that will guide the world beyond 2012 and through the coming decades. We owe our children and grandchildren no less
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. www.unfoundation.org.
About Global Leadership on Climate Action
The Global Leadership for Climate Action is a joint initiative of the Club of Madrid and the UN Foundation, which includes six former heads of state and seven former heads of government along with 12 leaders from business, government, and civil society, from more than 20 countries. The task force will develop specific recommendations on the elements essential to a post-2012 agreement on climate change and report to the Gleneagles Dialogue, meeting in Berlin in September 2007.
United Nations Foundation