My take on the latest climate change news

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.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announcing Leaders’ Summit
on climate change at the UN General Assembly

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.

8 thoughts on “My take on the latest climate change news

  1. When Christiana Figueres was asked at her session titled “The Good News on Climate Change” why she was so optimistic, she responded, “You are why I’m optimistic.”
    The fiery Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was at the Harvard Kennedy School on Friday afternoon to discuss why hopefulness is possible in the face of one of the most complex global issues of our time. While she discussed her confidence in future international policy, much of her talk focused on the exciting opportunities in business and technology.
    “Imagine a future in which technology moves us,” she said, and then, with her words, created for the audience a world with unlimited energy harnessed personally, self-sustaining buildings, electric cars with inductive power transfers, coast to coast travel that created energy rather than used it—a future in which developed nations help developing nations tie their economic growth to sustainability.
    It might seem that most of her “good news” on the climate is based on future hypotheticals, but her expectations are not unfounded. As Figueres stated her in talk, renewable energy has grown to a $1 trillion sector, the cost of solar panels has decreased by 80%, Tesla is outselling all other luxury brands in California and here in Massachusetts, and there are an estimated 80,000 jobs available in the clean energy sector. In Figueres’ arena of international politics, the world’s number one oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is also the world’s largest investor in solar energy. From governments to businesses, moving towards green solutions is becoming more and more valuable.
    Figueres underscored that her vision depended on students. The take-away phrase of the afternoon was “eager minds of tomorrow.” Students in the audience studying physics, urban planning, technology and society, all listened intently to her call.
    “You have the responsibility to make choices about how you use your privilege of knowledge,” Figueres told us. Rather than being a burdensome message, her talk painted a vivid image of the future possibilities and emphasized our role. As future leaders, she said, we needed to advocate for climate policy, push for action in industry, and further technological innovation.
    As a student, I was struck by Figueres’ emphasis on the varied solutions necessary for climate change across multiple sectors. It reminded me of the importance of education in the battle against climate change. Education gives us the skills to create new technologies, the knowledge to understand the complexity of the problems, and the wisdom to orchestrate social, economic and political change. The kind of visionary change she described didn’t depend on a single discipline; it called on individuals from every area of life.
    I went to Figueres’ talk on “the good news on climate change” expecting to hear about progress in international or state politics. But I left with the powerful understanding that the good news is in the opportunities for the future and the commitment to progress that is already apparent in different areas of society. The good news is that leadership, like that of the UNCCC, has created an environment that beckons for the innovation of “eager minds.” The good news is that we still believe in good news, and we strive to be a part of it. We are the good news.


    • Christiana which part of the Australian recent bush fires did you not comprehend. The bush fires in some parts of New South Wales were not caused by Climate Change.The raging were fed with the dryness of the bush and this has always happened in Australia’s history .
      Some of the bush fires were started by children. The big one in the Blue Mountains was started in the State mines by the defence department who were doing exercises with ammunition. The Winmalee fire was caused by an electrical company’s bad management of not following through with a tree removal ordnance. The tree fell on the electrical lines causing an enormous fire and many people to lost their homes.
      Christiana how do you explain the leaked report from UN Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC?. It says,” In a rebound from 2012’s record low,there has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered ice compared to this time last year, equivalent of almost a million square miles”. Other scientist claim the world is heading for a cooling period which will not end until the middle of this century.
      The IPCC says it is”95 per cent confident” that global warming has been caused by humans— up from 90 per cent 2007 —-according to the draft report. US climate expert Professor Judith Curry questions how can this be true, because rather than increasing in confidence”uncertainty is getting bigger” within the academic community.

  2. Although the detail of climate projections is complicated the macro view of the task in hand is quite simple: we must remake human economy to be symbiotic with the planet’s ecology.
    Failure to do so is an insult to humanity.

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    uses: heat generation with increased efficiency for superheated steam. data not available for using friction to produce heat for transfer to water. stir welding temps reach 500 degrees c, if transfer dynamics favorable, a new dynamic could replace coal fired plants steam generation techniques. Research needed to explore viability.

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