Political Will and Collaboration Can Put Climate Change Solutions Within Reach

25 Sep 2018

Alem Tedeneke, Media Lead SDGs, Public Engagement, Tel.: +1 646 204 9191, Email: ated@weforum.org

· Technologies exist to transform energy, food and urban systems to save the Earth and drive economic growth

· Failure to act would lead to an ecological tipping point and global catastrophe

· Multistakeholder engagement, a positive agenda and more emphasis on resilience can foster the needed political will

· Meet the 100 coalitions accelerating climate action and sustainable development http://wef.ch/coalitions

· More information at www.wef.ch/SDI18 and follow the conversation at #wefimpact

New York, 25 September 2018 – Leaders from around the world at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York called for political will and global collaboration to implement the solutions – which already exist or soon will – to save the planet from ecological catastrophe.

“We have an exponential path to progress if it is matched to an exponential growth in will,” said Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States, 1993-2001; Chairman and Co-Founder, Generation Investment Management. With 110 million tons of global warming pollution emitted every day, Gore said the Earth’s resilience is finally buckling, with potentially apocalyptic consequences. But he sounded a note of optimism, from both technological innovation and signs of growth in awareness and political will.

Johan Rockström, incoming co-Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, stressed the urgency in keeping global warming under 2°C. Otherwise, he said, we may face a “hothouse Earth scenario” in which global warming becomes self-reinforcing and accelerates uncontrollably. However, he added that technological solutions already exist. “We have evidence today. We can cut emissions in half over the next decade, by 2030, in every sector of the economy,” he said.

“Dealing with climate change is not just an urgent responsibility,” said Luis Afonso de Alba, United Nations Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit. “It also makes sense economically, politically and morally.” As we approach the UN’s 2019 climate summit, de Alba urged highlighting that positive agenda, along with a greater emphasis on resilience and adaption to climate change.

“We are on a collision course with nature and we don’t have much time left,” said Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility. She also noted the opportunities for economic growth, innovation and job creation that will result from making food systems, cities and energy systems more sustainable. She praised the power of multistakeholder engagement, as opposed to the old government-to-government engagements, to catalyse system change and govern the global commons.

Individuals that have the resources can help save the planet each time they sit down to a meal by eating less meat and more plant-based foods. Working with existing stakeholders in the food system, as well as offering information and appealing alternatives, can help reduce meat consumption. David Yeung, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Green Monday Foundation, said: “We cannot just tell people to take something off their plates. We have to offer something new.”

From renewable energies to smart cities, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, all the technologies needed to save the planet will function best if they work together. “We have to think about moving beyond resilience,” said Leann Kemp, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Everledger. “We are at a point of exponential technologies. Let’s combine them to solve global problems.”

The World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, hosts its second Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York on 24-25 September to drive solutions for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement on climate change.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.