DAVOS, Switzerland, January 21, 2015 (ENS) – “This year is the Year of Climate,” Al Gore told an audience of global business and political leaders Wednesday on the at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
To inspire climate protection, the former U.S. vice president together with American musician and fashion designer Pharrell Williams, used the Davos stage to announce a second round of Live Earth concerts – called Live Earth Road to Paris – to take place on all seven continents on June 18, 2015.
In December all the nations of the world are meeting in Paris to conclude a historic legally-binding treaty to limit the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, a process Gore supports and encourages.
“It is absolutely crucial that we build public support for such an agreement,” Gore said in Davos, pointing to public opinion polls that show a rise in support.
The Live Earth Road to Paris concerts will be played in: Paris, Beijing, Sydney, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. And in Antarctica, the seventh continent, a band made up of climate scientists from one of the research stations will perform.
Williams, who played in July 2007 in Rio during the first round of Live Earth concerts, said he had “a ball” back then. But he also said the experience wasn’t all positive.
“You would have pundits and comedians who didn’t understand global warming, and we were often ridiculed. We wanted to do something very different this time,” said Williams, the event’s creative director. “Instead of just having people perform, we literally are going to have humanity harmonize all at once.”
Gore said the Live Earth Road to Paris event will bring together a billion voices to shine a global spotlight on the Paris negotiations this year and deliver a single message to all the leaders, “Take climate action now.”
A video clip shown before the announcement hinted that 100 artists will perform in the seven shows with each event lasting four to six hours. But the organizers did not reveal the musical lineup for the 2015 Live Earth concerts.
Emmy-winning producer and activist Kevin Wall joined Gore and Williams to announce the event, which aims for a global television audience of two billion people across 193 television networks.
Wall said, “The power of music is unique, because it’s borderless, without language. Pharrell will use that power. When you combine music with a message, you can effect change.”
Live Earth Road to Paris will be broadcast across all major media platforms and supported by a year-long campaign in partnership with some of the world’s leading brands and non-profit organizations.
Gore was not alone but was one of many influential voices in Davos, who spoke of the urgent need to quickly address the Earth’s changing climate.
Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, is chairman of the Global Commission on Economy and Climate, which produced a report, “Better Climate, Better Growth,” introduced last September at the UN Secretary-General’s climate summit. It concludes that countries at all income levels have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth and at the same time reduce the immense risk of climate change. But action is needed now.
“It is possible to have economic growth and tackle climate change at the same time,” said Calderon during a panel discussion before reporters in Davos. “In the next 15 years we need to take crucial steps in order to meet both goals.”
The report establishes an action plan with 10 proposals that address three main systems, said Calderon. We must decarbonize the world’s energy systems, stop deforestation completely, we must limit the sprawling growth of cities, and we must grow enough food to feed the growing population, he said.
“We need to invest roughly US$90 trillion in cities, energy and land uses to switch to a low-carbon economy,” said Calderon.
“I want to personally endorse this report,” said Gore. “This is really worth reading.”
Paul Polman CEO of Unilever, chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a member of Conservation International’s Board of Directors, said during the panel discussion that business is getting behind a price on carbon and the creation of a low-carbon global economy.
“It is not surprising to me that we have far more businesses stepping up to the plate,” Polman said. “We now have 4,000 companies reporting on their greenhouse gases. That’s quite a big number. Eighty percent of the top 500 companies are setting absolute emissions standards. Many already have an internal price on carbon. The 35 biggest companies have set a goal for zero emissions.”
At the UN Climate Summit in September in New York, Polman said more than 1,000 companies to signed the World Bank statement calling for a price on carbon.
“The cost of not acting is getting higher than the cost of acting,” said Polman. Unilever already incurs costs of roughly 400 million euros a year because of the effects of climate change, he said. Droughts and floods have caused Unilever factories to close, he said.
“In the food industry if no actions are taken in the next 30 years, all the profits of the industry will disappear, Polman warned.
Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford, told the panel, “This year’s decisions shape the next 20, and the next 20 will shape the century.”
Stern authored an influential report on climate change back in 2006. Today he chairs the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, and also serves with Calderon on the Global Commission on Economy and Climate.
“The next 20 years will shape the world,” said Stern. “The most rapid urbanization we’ve ever seen will happen in the next 20 years as the number of people living in cities will go from three billion today to six billion.”
“Sustainable development, the eradication of poverty is so intertwined with climate change,” said Stern. “If we do nothing the poorest people get hit hardest.”
Despite overwhelming evidence, from melting polar ice caps to rising sea levels, many people still deny that climate change is happening.
Dr. Mario Molina, who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in discovering how refrigerant gases cause a hole in the ozone layer addressed the climate change deniers.
In an interview by Katia Moskvitch for the World Economic Forum, Molina put the blame on “a very well financed public relations campaign by some interest groups to question climate change science.”
“In response to these efforts the media very often still communicates the idea that there are two sides to this question, that there are some scientists who think that it’s a serious problem but other scientists think that it’s still debatable whether society has to do anything about it. And it’s a myth,” said Molina. “There are surveys that show 97 percent consensus among informed scientists who have published on climate change issues.”
If people do nothing to minimize the impacts of climate change, Molina warns that the average surface temperature of the planet will probably increase this century by four, five or more degrees centigrade.
“We know that the planet has not been that warm for millions of years but it was that warm at some point in time and it was a very different planet – with crocodiles at the North Pole,” he said.
“A big worry is that if the temperature increases by that many degrees, we’ll reach tipping points,” Molina said. “There might be abrupt climate changes that would be very disruptive for society.”
“Furthermore,” he said, “the sea level will rise further and many coastal cities will be flooded. Island states are likely to disappear. We already know that the sea level is increasing. Heat waves are also occurring more frequently and they have consequences such as increased mortality.”
Molina says the most important action people can take is to pressure their governments so that there is an international agreement. “Because only then will the entire planet begin to change,” he said.
“Society must let governments know that people are worried and expect changes – because no one country alone can solve the problem. We know it’s feasible – we’ve done it with the stratospheric ozone,” said Molina. “We can also do it with climate change, but we must try harder.”
The World Economic Forum is an international institution based in Geneva committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation. It engages political, business, academic and other leaders in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
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