We have less than twenty years to contain climate change

Jean Jouzel

Climatologist and glaciologist, former vice president of the IPCC, member of two national research bodies in France, the  Académie des sciences and the Conseil économique, social et environnemental

In February, scientists from NASA discovered a giant cavity in the ice in West Antarctica, sparking concerns that forecasts modelling ice decline were inaccurate. Ice appears to be melting at a faster pace than previously estimated, which would also result in more rapidly rising sea levels. A two- or three-metre rise in sea levels by 2200 or 2300 would move shorelines inland causing cities like New York, Miami, Dhaka, Shanghai and Tokyo to disappear. In the shorter-term, younger generations are likely to struggle to adapt to new climate conditions by the end of this century.

Time is of the essence. The actions taken over the next twenty years will determine the future of our planet. Digital technologies and the opportunities they offer in terms of online communications and remote working to reduce travel can help reduce greenhouse gases, as long as servers and devices are powered by renewable energies. The objective set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to two degrees by the end of the century can still be achieved. A comprehensive international effort, however, is required to set a radical energy and ecological transition in motion. And that does not mean sacrificing our quality of life or even advocating a shrinking economy. It’s just the opposite, in fact. The ecological transition represents a major growth driver. Adopting a European finance-climate pact, for example, would create six million jobs in Europe by 2050, including 900,000 in France. We must also create a European climate bank to finance the transition. We have the financial resources to succeed; they simply need transferring from the carbon and speculation economies to a zero-carbon economy. Europe could generate a budget of €100 billion per year by taxing non-invested company profits.

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Governments, organisations, investors and individuals must now accept that we have no choice. Our old development model built on fossil fuels has reached its limit. The first country, or region, that successfully transitions to a more ecological model will also have a decisive advantage in the race to become the world’s leading economic power. The transition, however, can only be achieved by mobilising society as a whole. Each individual, at their own level, can influence our trajectory by adapting the way they live and consume to ensure a future for our planet and for all its inhabitants.

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Diana Gutiérrez

Gender parity could add trillions of dollars to the global economy