Politicians, activists, celebrities and personalities, including Prince William and Pope Francis, on Saturday called for action at all levels to resolve the climate crisis in the current decade, linking it to economic and racial inequalities, over the course of ‘a virtual event in favor of the climate.
“No country is immune to the climate crisis, but in every country it is the poorest people who are the most vulnerable even if they are the least causing the problem.”, said Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, in a statement posted on YouTube.
Believing that the world was living a “historic moment” marked by “difficult challenges”, Pope Francis urged everyone, of all faiths, to unite to protect the planet. “The land must be worked, cared for, cultivated and protected”, said the head of the Catholic Church in a message in Italian with English subtitles. “We can’t keep squeezing it like an orange. Each of us can play a part in it if we all do it today.”.
Entitled “Countdown“(countdown), the initiative was organized by the TED conference platform, a network specializing in the dissemination of ideas. For five hours around fifty personalities from around the world, including actresses Jane Fonda and Priyanka Chopra, had to heart to underline the risks that the planet would incur in the event of prolonged inaction.
Among the recommended actions: agriculture promoting coexistence between crops and animal life, electric transport systems and voting for pro-environment political leaders.
Minorities very affected
British Guyanese parliamentarian David Lammy has worked to establish a link between the climate emergency and the global protests against police violence and racial inequalities, initiated by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. after the death of African-American George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white policeman in May.
“Black people breathe the most toxic air compared to the rest of the population and it is people of color who are most likely to suffer from the climate crisis,” he said, explaining that this situation was due to the fact that more minorities work in tertiary professions more exposed to pollution and live in dense areas.
Coronavirus cannot be “an excuse”
The coronavirus pandemic cannot be “an excuse” to postpone the CO2 emissions reduction targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, for her part argued Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
The European Union will therefore devote billions of euros to green projects, underlined the leader, who sees the energy transition as a source of new jobs.
“The shared goals of our generation are clear. Together we must protect and restore nature, purify our air, revive our oceans, build a world without waste and find a solution to end (the climate crisis)”, asked Prince William.
“We must strive to do this during this decade. If we do, by 2030 our lives will not degrade and we will not have to sacrifice everything we love. On the contrary, the way we live would be healthier, cleaner, smarter and better for everyone “, pleaded the prince.
US presidential election in sight
“Countdown“comes at a time when political leaders are trying to politicize environmental issues, note the organizers, in reference to US President Donald Trump who regularly makes climate-skeptical remarks. “I want to vote for the planet”, said African-American director Ava DuVernay.
Messages from ordinary people, in particular on how they converted to selective sorting, gave up plastic bags or how they do not waste were also disseminated between celebrity interventions and artist performances. .
The architect Carlos Moreno encouraged the mayors to redesign their city to facilitate travel on foot and by bicycle, while the city councilor of Freetown in Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, detailed his plan to transform his municipality into a city ” green “by planting a million trees. “We are stubborn optimists”, had insisted the American actors Mark Ruffalo and Don Cheadle, from the first minutes of the event.
The main statements
Here are the key statements from political and religious leaders, celebrities and activists during the virtual climate event organized on Saturday by the TED conference platform, a network specializing in the dissemination of ideas.
“The land must be worked, tended, cultivated and protected. We cannot continue to squeeze it like an orange”.
African-American director Ava DuVernay:
“I am voting for the planet”.
Le prince William:
“Young people no longer believe that change is too difficult to happen. They think that the climate crisis and the threat posed to our biodiversity must focus all our attention and our ambition”.
Economist Rebecca Henderson:
“We have let capitalism turn into something monstrous. The truth is, the business world is going to disaster if we don’t fix climate change.”
Myles Allen, Professor of Environmental Sciences at Oxford:
“The fossil fuel industry knows how to put an end to global warming, but it waits for others to pay the price and no one is calling them out on this point.”
Johan Rockstrom, researcher on the impact of climate change at the Potsdam Institute:
“What will happen in the next ten years will undoubtedly determine the state of the planet that we will leave to future generations. Our children have the right to be alarmed.”
Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations:
“We have to make sure that every country has a plan for zero emissions (…) Many people around the world are already suffering from our failure to act.”
Prince Royce singer:
“We can and need to be part of this movement: eat local, cycle a bit more, understand what you spend your money on, vote for leaders who share our vision. Let’s change the world.”
British Guyanese parliamentarian David Lammy:
“Black people breathe the most toxic air compared to the rest of the population and it is people of color who are most likely to suffer from the climate crisis. All of this gives new meaning to the slogan (from the Black Lives Matter movement, black lives count) + I can’t breathe + “.
Christiana Figueres, former climate manager at the UN:
“We cannot stand idly by and hope the problem goes away; we can fall into despair and inaction or we can become stubborn optimists and face this challenge.”
Rose Mutiso, Kenyan energy researcher:
“California uses more electricity playing video games than Senegal. There is an impressive gap between those who have energy and those who do not.”
Activist Xiye Bastida:
“What if we made a commitment never to buy a car or a two-wheeler with a combustion engine again?”
Thomas Crowther, teacher in ecology:
“Restoring trees is not a quick fix. There is no quick fix (but) it’s part of the solution.”
John Doerr, influential Silicon Valley investor:
“The good news is that it is now clearly established that it is cheaper to save the planet than to ruin it. The bad news is that we are running out of time.”