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Over the last week the world has seen the launch of two declarations launched at the Heads of State level; both focussing on the need for Heads of State to take action on climate change that includes:

  1. Phasing out fossil fuels to allow for a full decarbonisation of the global economy
  2. An ambitious and universal agreement in Paris that applies to all countries: developed, emerging and developing countries alike.
  3. An operationalization of the maximum temperature limits of 1.5 and 2ºC in the Paris Agreement, by creating a global, long-term mitigation goal.

The Elders – a group of experienced thought leaders from all over the world, working on issues of human rights and peace – have written a letter to heads of state to convey the urgency and depth of the need for ambitious leadership on the international platforms afforded them this year.

In May 2014 Track 0’s founder and CEO, Farhana Yamin, wrote an opinion piece for the Elders, where she said:

“Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is ambitious but consistent with what climate scientists are saying: we need to peak global emissions by around 2020 and reduce them to net zero by around mid-century to have a good chance of staying below the globally agreed limit of a 2º Celsius rise in global temperatures. Any higher and the impacts are devastating, especially for the poor and most vulnerable who have contributed little to global warming and stand to lose the most.”

This week’s letter covers a package of measures The Elders would like to see committed to in Paris, here we draw out their calls for decarbonisation:

“Incremental change is no longer enough. The world is already experiencing the damaging impact of climate change. If action is not taken immediately to stop and reverse current climate trends, we shall face a world with average global temperatures several degrees higher than when we were children.

…we urge you to:

establish in the Paris agreement an overarching goal for all nations to reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2050. Countries should agree a timetable for acting on their commitment to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, with early action on coal. The science is clear and business, investors and consumers need strong signals that economies are clearly, firmly and steadily on the path to carbon neutrality;

Excellency, our future needs to be created by design rather than by happenstance. We urge you to seize the extraordinary opportunity at hand. Together Heads of State and Government can go far beyond business as usual. You can prove to be an historic generation of leaders who will have a profound and positive impact that echoes throughout the century.”

Days later, the Pacific Islands Development Forum signed and announced their ‘Suva Declaration on Climate Change, presenting the most powerful call by leaders of Pacific Island Nations that we’ve seen to date.

The Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, was quoted saying:

“Our disappointment and frustration at the world’s failure to act runs through this entire document. We in the Pacific tend to speak softly. It is in our nature. But on this issue, we needed to cry out with one voice, enough is enough. And we have. And it is all the more powerful for that.

We passionately believe that if the international community shows enough resolve, the impact of climate change on our way of life should not include having to move anywhere. The industrialized world needs to reorganize its economies and its priorities. To stop pumping out the excessive carbon emissions that are warming the planet. And we in the Pacific implore them to make the deep and binding cuts in emissions that are needed to halt our slide into disaster.”

The following provisions of the statement are focussed on decarbonisation, setting global mitigation goals and phasing out fossil fuels:

  1. Express grave concern that the continued increase in the production of fossil fuels, particularly the construction of new coal mines, undermines efforts to reduce global GHG emissions and the goal of decarbonising the global economy;
  1. Reiterate our commitment to the advancement of our national mitigation strategies and low carbon economies and net carbon sink status, as part of the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  1. We the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Development Forum following consultation with and the agreement of all stakeholders at the Pacific Island Development Forum Third Summit therefore call for:
    1. the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement to limit global average temperature increase to below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in order to transition towards deep decarbonization;

As the pressure mounts for leaders to increase their ambition for the Paris Agreement, these calls from affected peoples and those with experiences of leadership themselves are increasingly important.

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