“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 recorded statement posted on YouTube.
Believing that the world was going through a “historic moment” marked by “difficult challenges”, Pope Francis urged everyone, 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 role in it if we all do it today ”.
Entitled “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, were keen to stress the risks that the planet would run in the event of prolonged inaction.
A link with “Black Lives Matter”
British Guyanese parliamentarian David Lammy 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 was due to the that more minorities work in tertiary occupations more exposed to pollution and live in dense areas.
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 prince’s call
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 crisis) of the climate ”, ordered Prince William, according to an excerpt from his speech broadcast in advance.
“We must strive to do so during this decade. If we do, by 2030 our lives will not deteriorate 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.
“Countdown” comes as political leaders try to politicize environmental issues, the organizers note, in reference to US President Donald Trump, who regularly makes climate-skeptical remarks.
Drought, floods, giant fires and other natural disasters linked to climate change are ignoring political views, warns Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate official.
Messages from ordinary people, especially on how they converted to selective sorting, gave up plastic bags or how they do not waste were 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”: insisted the American actors Mark Ruffalo and Don Cheadle, from the first minutes of the event.