At the end of September, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest findings, unleashing an avalanche of new data showing scientists are more certain than ever that climate change is real and caused by humans. There is more clarity than ever that if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, we face a very grim future. So clearly, this is an alarm clock moment, a clarion call, to wake up and take action.
We must focus firmly on the fact that global action to deal with climate change is still not nearly enough. But, I firmly believe that there is also good news on which we can and must build a greater response. The good news is that leaders from all sectors are ramping up action, and that almost everyone can help contribute to the momentum that is building to curb greenhouse gas emissions and make societies more resilient.
I am delighted that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Heads of State and Government, along with business, finance, civil society and local leaders, to a Climate Summit in September 2014 in New York.
This meeting will be informed by the next part of the IPCC analysis regarding workable options and opportunities to curb emissions and adapt to climate change. Meanwhile, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon is working with seven countries on a report about the economic benefits of reducing carbon emissions. And Carlos Westendorp, Secretary General of the Club de Madrid, has assured me that numerous former heads of state and government are working tirelessly to help. This good news indicates that leaders have an opportunity to make 2014 a pivotal year in the effort by governments to reach a strong, new universal climate change agreement.
With Carlos Westendorp, Secretary General of the Club de Madrid
Stronger government policies are certainly required to chart the course towards a low-carbon and more resilient future, but it is clear that government polices alone are not enough. In New York for Climate Week, I witnessed firsthand how business leaders are seizing opportunity by moving to more low-carbon, resilient business models. The Clinton Global Initiative brought together major corporations to discuss minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity by greening supply chains and unleashing the potential of young women. I witnessed women corporate leaders acting on climate change and accelerating green growth. And I attended an International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit where I heard a powerful message to galvanize women’s action in a “can do” spirit. This good news tells us that the private sector is building momentum for climate action, with women as major contributors.
With Mary Robinson, Head of the Mary Robinson Foundation, and World Bank Vice-President Rachel Kyte
Young leaders can also contribute to the good news and the momentum to act on climate change. Following my time in New York, I was privileged to speak with some of the brightest young minds at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government about the many opportunities that arise from forward-looking policy, corporate strategy and technology. At Harvard, I shared my belief that the most innovative energy transformation in human history has already started. There are countless examples of this transformation, many in Massachusetts itself. A recent Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry report shows there are more than 5,500 companies and almost 80,000 jobs in the state’s booming clean energy sector. Smart energy policy has made Boston the most energy efficient US city, and participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped make the city an environmental business beacon. This good news tells us that we are moving in the direction of the world we need to create. But we can and must move faster, if everyone does more.
Meeting with students at Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Climate change is not solved with one magic bullet, but with multiple solutions across multiple sectors converging to meet the challenge. By harnessing the leadership potential in the world today, by involving the leaders of tomorrow and with the support of individuals and businesses that see the latest IPCC report as a wake-up call to get involved, I believe we can come together and solve the climate challenge.
I’d like to know: What are YOUR top take away messages from the IPCC’s findings? and where do YOU see the greatest scope for climate action? Leave a message below, or you can also follow me on Twitter and write a tweet, referencing @CFigueres and using the hashtag #climateaction.