From left Mohan Munasinghe, Thomas Stelzer, Alexander Likhotal, Martin Frick and Ian Dunlop discussing barriers to a sustainable future
At the end of their 10th Summit in Berlin (10-11 November 2009), the Nobel Peace Laureates issued a special statement on climate change for the Copenhagen Conference. They urge world leaders to make a personal commitment for a successful Copenhagen process. The third session of the Summit, organized by Green Cross International, examined the barriers to sustainable development. Read more for the full statement.
Nobel Peace Laureates Summit
General Statement – Environmental Comment
Walls of Menace to the Environment
Breaking down the walls that constrain environmental and sustainable development prospects
The Third Session looked ahead to examine the walls which separate us from our future. In particular those walls which adversely affect the prospects of a realistic outcome from the Copenhagen COP15 climate change meeting in December 2009. Given the importance of this issue to the future of humanity, Nobel Laureates adopted the attached special statement to be forwarded to global leaders at Copenhagen.
GCI Founding President Mikhail Gorbachev speaking at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Berlin
Statement to COP15 Climate Change Meeting
Copenhagen, December 2009
The Nobel Peace Laureate Summit concluded that:
1. Climate change now poses an unacceptable risk of catastrophic and irreversible harm at a global scale, possibly even within the next decade, threatening global peace, human security and development and putting the sustainability of human society in jeopardy.
2. Current negotiations are based on scientific information that is several years out-of-date. The latest science indicates that, on the balance of probabilities, we have badly underestimated both the extent and speed of climate change, to the point that we now run a rapidly increasing risk of sudden failure of some part of the climatic system, possibly via tipping points which may prove irreversible.
3. Despite 20 years of negotiation, virtually nothing has been done so far to contain the problem and there is no sign of that changing at the forthcoming Copenhagen meeting. Excellent work is underway by concerned governments and organisations, but it is now clear that conventional processes will not deliver the speed and extent of change required to avert potentially catastrophic impacts.
4. New thinking is required to break through politics-as-usual. We have run out of time to take a graduated response and we must now move to global emergency action. This will require cooperation across the spectrum, involving civil society, public and private sectors, bipartisan political involvement, on an unprecedented scale. As the world’s poorest suffer most from but contribute least to climate change and as we bear responsibility for future generations, climate justice must be a guiding principle.
5. Successful resolution of our climate and sustainability dilemma requires transformational change, not incrementalism. It means almost complete decarbonisation of the global economy by 2050, a peaking of global emissions by 2015 and reduction of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. This is a far greater task than is acknowledged politically, but it is achievable given the will and statesmanship which humanity has demonstrated in previous emergencies.
6. Every effort must be made to reach an agreement at Copenhagen built on the latest science, however unlikely that may be. If an unsatisfactory compromise does materialise, or no agreement is reached, the danger is that the pressure for further change will evaporate, locking in potentially catastrophic outcomes as carbon emissions continue to accelerate. From a global peace and security perspective, let alone from moral and ethical considerations, that cannot be allowed to happen.
7. In these circumstances, the Copenhagen process should be halted and global leaders immediately called into emergency session to chart a new path for transformative change. Whilst this action may seem extreme, that is what the considered science, and prudent risk management, now implies.
8. To be successful, this initiative must involve a very personal commitment from key world leaders. In the interests of world peace and security, the Nobel Peace Laureates urge global leaders to make that commitment without delay, as others have done in the past.