Dr. Rajendra Pachauri | 2018, Reality of climate change and what we can do as citizens to stop or mitigate its effectsRelated Video:
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Dr. Rajendra Pachauri
2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
[IN SPANISH] Thank you very much.
[IN ENGLISH] It is a great pleasure for me to be here and I want to thank the organizers once again for giving me this opportunity. As I said earlier, CUMIPAZ is a very high initiative, the world needs many initiative like this all around the world to change the mindsets of human society.
Human beings have become very self-centered, very selfish, and we don’t realize that in being all that we are today, we are actually harming the interests of future generations.
Now, climate change, to my mind (and I will attempt to show you in a little while) is an enormous threat to peace, because it is going to lead to an increase in conflict, it is already doing so. It will lead to problems of food security, problems of climate refugees, displacement of people, and a threat to life and property as a result of the impacts of climate change.
I mentioned earlier that I've set up two organizations and one of them is called the World Sustainable Development Forum. As part of that, earlier this year we had organized a major event in Mexico City and I’m going to give you a four-minute video from that to begin with, which gives you some of the key messages that came out of that event which we had organized. So, I would request that we play that video, which is at the start of my presentation.
[VIDEO TEXT & AUDIO]
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We human beings are ruthlessly exploiting nature…
Destruction of Ecosystems
…and are risking our future and that of all species because climate change is a reality.
The Fury of Nature
Widespread Forest Fires
Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Climate Ambassador, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City: “Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded on Earth have occurred since the year 2000. These facts and the predictions for the future, they reveal, mean the world of the future may not look much like the one we enjoy today.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We are the first generation to understand the science of climate change.
Petteri Taalas, Secretary General, World Meteorological Organization, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“I have some bad news to tell you: We have broken all-time records in concentrations of main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, and N2O.
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We might be the last generation to find solutions for sustainable development. The world sustainable Development Forum is enabling solutions…
Dr. R.K. Pachauri, President, World Sustainable Development Forum and Chief Mentor, Protect Our Planet Movement:
“What is particularly important is not only debating platform, we also need to ensure that there’s action, and the WSDF is not only going to promote action all over the world but also on Internet so that we know that we’re doing adequately in every part of the globe to meet the objectives of this organization.”
Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Former President of Guyana & Patron-in-Chief, World Sustainable Development Forum, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“It is our objective changing the conversation to green jobs, about how health care would be enhanced by climate objectives, about how you can cut the cost of energy, how you can get the cost of living down, all with climate objectives in mind; then it becomes good politics.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] World Sustainable Development Forum: A global initiative for a sustainable future; a platform for all stakeholders to implement sustainable solutions.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former Governor of California, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“…prove that we don’t have to wait for our national governments or international institutions.”
Frederico Mayor, Former Director General, UNESCO, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“Now what we need is timely treatments, because otherwise tomorrow can be too late.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We motivate, inspire, and inform human society towards a sustainable future.
Dr. Jose Ramos Horia, Former President of East Timor & Nobel Laureate, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“We can contribute further to mobilize world public opinion, as well as governments, to fully implement the climate change accord that we achieved in Paris.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We are here to share and spread hope.
Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Climate Ambassador, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“But there is also reason for hope: Renewable energy, clean fuels, and putting a price on carbon are beginning to turn the tide. But we must scale up these solutions and get them in the hands of everyone everywhere right now.”
Jose Manuel Barroso, Former President, European Commission, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“We will win that global battle against climate change because basically we have two great allies: Public opinion, global public opinion in general, and also science that is demonstrating the need, the urgency to act if you want to protect our planet and to let future generations live in our planet.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We are here to create a cleaner greener tomorrow.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former Governor of California, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“I’m personally committed to making a green energy future my next crusade. We want to get everyone involved in this crusade: Regional governments, businesses, finance partners, NGOs, clean technology companies, academics, everybody.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We are here to mobilize, to inspire, to encourage people to take action.
Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Climate Ambassador, Addressing the World Sustainable Development Forum, 2018 Mexico City:
“Starting right here and now, let’s write the next chapter together.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] We are here to protect our planet.
So, what we are trying to do is to create an understanding and awareness and mobilize action all over the world.
On the 6th of September we had a major event in Gothenburg, Sweden in partnership with a local organization. We dealt with climate change and wildlife, and wildlife is being threatened everywhere. One of the things that I will tell you about the Arctic Ocean will place a lot of doubt on the ability of polar bears to survive, and that’s only one species; you’ll find everywhere wildlife is being threatened because of water shortages, because of forest fires, because of heat waves, floods, and so on. So, we are really threatening all the species on planet Earth.
Now, I’d like to go to the first slide. Can we show the first slide, please?
Ok, this is a picture of the ecological footprint of human society, and I’ve taken this from the Living Planet Report, which is produced every two years by WWF, and you can see over there that humanity’s footprint has been increasing and it is now far in excess of the capacity.
There is a faint line over there, but it is not very clear, which shows the capacity of this Earth to be able to take care of this footprint, which is increasing very rapidly. And one of the components that I included in this are carbon dioxide emissions, fishing grounds are being over exploited, cropping land is being damaged, built up land is increasing, so that is also a major part of the footprint, and forest products are being produced beyond sustainable levels, and grazing land is eating into forest area as well.
So, we already are about 50% more than the capacity of the Earth to take care of the huge burden we are placing on it, and therefore, we need to change the way we define development, we define human welfare, and this is where, I think, an organization like CUMIPAZ can make an enormous difference.
This shows you the increase in average temperature since the beginning of industrialization. And you see there are ups and downs, there are fluctuations that you find over here, which are the result of both human activities, as well as natural factors like solar activity, volcanoes, all of that has a major impact on the climate of the Earth.
But what is very striking is the fact since 1950 of so, you see the trend is upward; temperatures are increasing and that certainly is a cause for deep concern. Since the beginning of industrialization the average increase in temperature has been 1 degree Celsius. Now, you can say 1 degree is not a lot, but if you look at geological pillars, then 1 or 2 degrees is really a huge increase, and the difference between interglacial periods and periods when you had the Ice Age is no more than 3, 3.5 Celsius. So, one degree is very, very serious and of course this is accompanied by several other impacts which I’m going to explain to you.
This gives you a picture of globally averaged sea level change. The sea level is increasing because of two factors: One is the melting of the bodies of ice across the whole planet, and the other is thermal expansion of the oceans. So, as a result, since the beginning of the last century, up to 2011, we’ve had an average sea level rise of about 19 centimeters. Now, that's a lot. If you are living on a small-island state or for that matter, even if you are living in Florida –that is what I keep telling everybody, that I hope President Donald Trump learns swimming, if he doesn’t know swimming already, because his gulf coast will be under water and will be converted into a swimming pool, alright?
Therefore, we need to be deeply concerned about this, and I will tell you about some of the projections for the future as far as sea level rise is concerned.
This is what is the driver of human-induced climate change; you have a major increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and N2O (nitrous oxide). Now look at carbon dioxide, it has increased so rapidly. At the beginning of industrialization we were only 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide, now, it is well in excess of 400 parts per million. And this is totally unsustainable and we have to turn this around, we have to make sure that we reduce the emissions of these major greenhouse gases and bring the concentration levels down to something that’s somewhat more acceptable.
Where does carbon dioxide come from? You see the dark shaded areas gives you emissions from burning of fossil fuels, from cement production, and flaring of natural gas. So, this is the area that we have to tackle.
The yellow area is deforestation and what we call land use change. Now, clearly, what we have to target is doing away with fossil fuels and moving to look on other sources of energy, which means renewable sources of energy.
Now, the impacts of climate change are becoming very serious and we know now, in fact, the IPCC brought out a special report on this subject. The number and frequency of extreme events is going up very rapidly, and so is the intensity.
What are the kinds of extreme events that we’re talking about? Heat waves; now with heat waves and dry weather you will get forest fires and you have seen the terrible forest fires in California, and earlier last year we had them Portugal; a few years ago we had terrible forest fires in Russia. So, these are certainly the outcome of the impacts of climate change.
The other extreme event that we had projected was an increase in extreme precipitation, which means in a short period of time you will get a huge quantity of rainfall, which means flooding, which means destruction, and also an increase in hurricanes and typhoons; and we’ve had so many of them recently and the ferocity, the intensity of these is much worse than what we have seen in the past, historically.
Now, what we find is that as a result of these impacts of climate change we will get a continuation of the… Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to further warming of the oceans. And already the oceans have gone through a depth of about 7 meters, and… 700 meters and that heat is going further down, which means that other species which are at lower depths are also going to be affect.
Already we know that coral reefs have been badly damaged all over the world. We also know that the Arctic Ocean will continue to warm, and in fact, one prediction that I can make, which is very startling, is that in September, 2050, if we continue with business as usual and we don’t do anything about this problem, that in September of 2050 there will be no arctic sea ice cover. So, can you image the Arctic Ocean without any ice cover? And when that happens then certainly polar bears cannot exist.
Polar bears really live on Arctic sea ice and every time there’s a hole in the ice, a seal will come up and a seal is what is the staple food of polar bears, so that's obviously going to be a serious problem.
I also want to mention that we will have continuing sea level rise, and with business as usual, we could get sea level rise of 98 centimeters by the end of this century. That means that the Maldive Islands are gone, a number of the islands in the South Pacific will be gone. And some climate skeptics will tell you that it’s cheaper for the world to resettle the people from these islands rather than bring down emissions of greenhouse gases. But are we going to destroy their cultures? These are cultures that have lived for thousands of years, they have lived on those islands, their father’s, their grandfather’s bones are buried over there, and are we going to treat them just like objects that can be moved one place to another? So I think these are issues that we need to be deeply concerned about.
I also want to mention that you will have a continuing melting of the glaciers all over the world. And that has serious implications because many glaciers are where rivers originate, and if those glaciers melt, then those rivers will have much lower flow of water, and that has serious implications for the whole world.
Now, some of the social economic impacts of climate change will result in food and water shortages, and this is happening everywhere. One of the impacts of climate change is also a reduction in the productivity of agricultural crops.
So we have a world where the population is growing, who knows where it will stabilize, 9.5 billion, 10 billion? And agricultural productivity is actually going down so, that’s something to be deeply concerned about.
There will also be an increase in poverty, because there’s a large number of poor farmers all over the world. If they can’t produce enough food to take care of their own needs and their families’ needs, there will be poverty. What’s more, they’ll also have serious difficulty in getting enough water and they will also be victims of extreme events, because every time…
Let me compare, let’s say a typhoon in Florida: When that happens, people get enough warning; they will board their windows, they get into their pick-up trucks or SUVs and drive away somewhere, but when a similar typhoon or cyclone hits Bangladesh, which is a very poor country, they don’t always get early warning and even if they do they don’t have the means by which they can escape.
They are living in very flimsy shelters, and their homes are destroyed, several people’s lives are lost. So, you know, we have to worry about the impacts on the poor, and the impacts on the poor will take place in rich countries and poor countries.
If you look at hurricane Katrina a large number of the poor people who were affected have still not been able to get settled in life. You have seen hurricane Maria last year hit Puerto Rico very badly. I don’t think people have recovered from that, and there was so many debts, there was major devastation.
So I think we are creating the seeds of conflict. We are destroying the opportunity for peace essentially by –excuse me... So, I think the poor everywhere will be very badly affected, even in rich countries. And that is something to be concerned about.
I also want to mention that there will be much greater displacement of people. I mean Europe has a serious refugee crisis right now and that is actually affecting the politics very seriously, and this problem will only grow with the impacts of climate change, because a large number of people will be displaced, and when they are displaced, were will they go? They will just get on boats,which may even sink while they are moving from one place to the other and would like to go to Europe.
Of course, you have the US where a very distinguished president of the country is wanting to build a wall, but I keep telling my Mexican friends that if they build a wall, then you should appoint El Chapo as a consultant, because he knows how to tunnel under all kinds of conditions and he will be able to create a lot of tunnels under that wall. And, you know, when he escaped from that prison he didn't crawl out on his hands and legs, he went on a motor bike, so it was a very well-engineered tunnel that he went through. Okay, that’s one set of problems that we have.
Last year, as you remember, hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas. This is a street in Houston, Texas which was converted into a river and people had to from one place to another by boat. I’m happy to see that the dogs were also taken care of, and it was Ghandi who said that the state of a society can be judged by the way it treats its animals, but these are of course pet animals, and we should really worry about animals everywhere and not just those that are in our homes.
Just a few days ago, Asia, Southeast and East Asia, including parts of China were hit by typhoon Mangkhut and you see the kind of devastation that took place over there.
Now, let me just list a few impacts of climate change. Climate change will amplify risks. I mean, human society has all kinds of risks; we are going to add to those risks, and a large fraction of species faces increased extinction, and we must go back to Dr. William Soto Santiago’s video address this morning, the importance of all species for human life.
And climate change is protected to undermine food security (which I’ve already mentioned, and human health will also be affected, because you know vector-borne diseases are going to increase. If you look at the US, they never had Dengue Fever, they never had Chikungunya; now they have Dengue fever, they have Chikungunya, and of course they also have a political health problem if I may say so. So these are things that will be increased all over the world so human health will be affected as a result.
Climate change is projected to increase displacement of people. And without additional mitigation, that means reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Efforts beyond those that we have placed today, we have to do much, much more, and even if we adapt to some of the impacts of climate change, by the end of the century they will be very high risks. So I really worry about the current generation of youth and generations yet to come.
And surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century. We’ve got a number of emissions in areas that we have used in the IPCC and under all of them, the temperature will increase. And it’s virtually certain that the global mean sea level will continue to rise for many centuries, because the ocean is a huge quantity of water. Once we start warming it, its expansion will continue for a long period of time, beyond this century. So we are really changing the very future of this planet.
Now this is another risk that I want to tell you about. Some of you may have read about the Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet melting very rapidly. I have been to Greenland and you can’t believe what kind of a place it is. Greenland is the largest island on this planet, and it has a huge quantity of ice, about 3 kilometers high.
When I went, I went in a US Air Force plane, which didn't land on wheels it landed on skis, and it couldn’t take off immediately because simply because there was fresh snow, and it doesn’t allow the plane to take off when the snow is soft.
But why I am mentioning this is if you go to Greenland you will find rivers of water flowing because the ice is melting very rapidly. And if one part of that ice was to collapse and fall into the ocean, then you will have sea level rise of several meters, and this is true of the Antarctic Ice sheet also.
And what we have over here is basically the pine island glacier which is about the size of Texas in Antarctica that is melting rapidly, and this melting actually started in the 1940s, and it’s thinning very rapidly and this has major implication for coastal cities across the globe.
The most vulnerable cities like Shanghai, Daka, Alexandrea, Calcutta in India, and of course states like Florida and states like Louisiana will be seriously affected. So we have to eliminate this kind of risk.
Now you could say there is a very small probability that this would happen but I think sensible human action needs to eliminate even those low probability but high impact risks that we are likely to create. So it is essential that we deduce the emissions of greenhouse gases very rapidly.
How do we do that? Well, the Paris Agreement has a target of two degrees as the maximum temperature by the end of this century. And to reach that, to make sure we will remain below that target we will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42.70% in 2050, compared to 2010. And by the end of the century, we will have to have 0, or negative emissions.
So you will ask the question, how can we have negative emissions? [AUDIO CUT] …reducing deforestation and improve forest management, bio and energy with carbon cap in storage, and lifestyle and behavioral changes.
I said earlier in the morning that we are becoming a extremely wasteful society; and we are so driven by advertising. Can you guess what the advertising budget of the world is? It is about 700 billion dollars. Now nature doesn’t have any advertising budget, so who is advertising for the protection of nature? Nobody; it is us: We have to become the advertisers for nature and therefore what we really need to do is to bring about lifestyle changes.
We have to stop waste. Look at the amount of plastic waste, the amount of solid waste from everything that we consume. We go to a department store we don't have intentions of buying anything, but you find a nice dress, you will buy it, you will probably wear it twice, and then throw it away.
For this reason, I’ve never been to a department store in India, because I have an ethical objection to those; they are energy guzzlers, they are designed just like the department stores in the US, and I don’t see why we need to do that.
I also want to mention that one of the areas where we have to bring about major lifestyle changes is in our diets. Dr. William Soto Santiago mentioned this morning that health is a function of what you eat and I keep telling everybody please eat less meat. If you eat less meat you’ll be healthier, and so will the planet.
There is now enough medical evidence to show that eating excess quantities of meat is going to result in all kinds of difficult health conditions. And there is enough evidence to show that meat production in the factory cycle that we have is very intensive in the use of water and in the emission of greenhouse gases.
In August 2016, National Geographic had a very nice article which talks about a particular farm in the US which produces beef, and they said if you have a quarter pound hamburger from that farm it has used up 760 gallons of water to produce that. Now can we afford that, and can we afford it for our own health? So it’s absolutely essential that we bring about change in our lifestyles and move away from waste.
And the good news is that you know, in China for instance, for a week this region ran on renewable energy. And that is not charity, it’s economically attractive.
And this is the way you can project the cost of renewable energy. Over here you have three lines: One shows the cost of generation of coal, which is the top most dark line, and the other one is using wind energy onshore, and large solar farms.
You see how rapidly the economics of these technologies are changing and therefore it makes sense if you are going to make investments in power generation that you make investments that make sense in the future; because the power plant, once it's established, will be there for thirty of 40 years at least. So things are becoming very attractive for renewables.
So, what is the immediate need? The immediate need is that emissions need to peak by 2020 you have 2 years after that they must start declining. Extreme events are becoming more difficult, more dangerous, and the world must set its goal at 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. This means 0 emissions before 2050. So it is a huge challenge, but we can do it if we decide to.
And…a scenario, I'm not going to that, that’s a little technical.
And the only hope lies in the hands of youth. Now, this is where I come to the next body I have set up. It's called POP Movement which stands for “Protect our Planet,” and we are working with youth all over the world.
There are 1.5 billion young people in this world who can really take leadership and bring about change, and that is the only hope because those that are older have mindsets that don’t change easily. Young people have open minds and young people have their future at stake. So the POP Movement is basically trying to convert educational institutions into centers of action and knowledge on climate change, and to my mind that’s the only hope.
And you know people may say, “What can we do, we are a very small number. This planet has more than 7 billion people.” Well Gandhi said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the cause of history.” And if you look at history it is a small group of people who started in a particular direction and then you really had a revolution which brought about change. That’s what we need today.
So I’ll go to the final video, and we can play that now:
Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist, National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: “There’s no doubt whatsoever that the planet is warming, and also humans are the cause, and that’s all sorts of human activities, mainly related to the burning of fossil fuels; carbon dioxide has gone up by more than 40% since pre-industrial times; the oceans are warmer; sea level is rising at over a foot per century; Arctic sea ice is melting and glaciers are decreasing around the world.”
Prof. Michael Mann, Climate Scientist, Pennsylvania State University: “Climate change is altering the characteristics of jet stream in a way that favors some of the most damaging recent weather events that we’ve seen: the 2003 European Heat wave, the 2010 wildfires in Russia, the heatwave and wildfires in Russia, and flooding in Pakistan that occurred in 2010, and 2015, the devastating wildfires in California.
Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Chief Mentor, Protect our Planet Movement, Former Chairman; IPCC (2002-2015): “So, what we had projecting, what science had told us, is now coming true, and I’m deeply concerned for the youth of the world because these risks, these disasters and the terrible impacts that they have are going to become much more intense and much more frequent. So I would say that it’s the youth of the world, who have to take the lead.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] Mobilizing 1.8 billion youngsters holds the key for a sustainable tomorrow.
Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Chief Mentor, Protect our Planet Movement, Former Chairman; IPCC (2002-2015): “I’ve launched something called the POP movement, which stands for “Protect our Planet,” and what I see as a great source of inspiration is young people taking the lead.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] Protect Our Planet Movement, encouraging, inspiring, Youth across the globe to take the lead.
[VOICE OVER] “Schools across the globe are joining the POP movement because they realize the power of 1.8 billion youth to drive the world towards a sustainable future. The Protect Our Planet or POP Movement is a global youth centric program that develops schools as climate mitigation and adaptations centers through hands-on, project-based learning and capacity building.”
[YOUTHS] “We are part of the POP family. We are the pioneers here in Mexico and we come from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.”
[VOICE OVER] “The students estimate their own carbon footprint and devise ways to reduce it through technological, infrastructural, or lifestyle changes. They engage in activities that provide real-time solutions to problems of emissions, waste, and inadequate water. Through this approach the schools benefit ways: Monetary savings as well as higher academic achievements due to enhanced life and learning skills.”
[POP GERMANY] “I’m here to present the POP Movement team from Germany.” [ON SCREEN TEXT: Julius-Stursberg-Gymnasium, Neukirchen-Vluyn (NRW), Germany] We are a team of 50 members who work on reducing our CO2 emissions.”
[YOUTH] “We are working on a lot of things here in China. We try to help school to achieve zero carbon emissions, and try to integrate all stakeholders to work together to achieve one goal: Protect our planet.”
[VOICE OVER] Operating in global locations, namely Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Germany, France, Portugal, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, China, and Japan, the POP Movement offers various cross learning opportunities to the participating institutions.
[ON SCREEN TEXT] Time is running out.
Jerry Brown, Governor of California: “So young people who are going to live a while, you’re the ones who have to take up the enthusiasm and make the commitment to pressure, to enlighten, and to make the politicians and business people and cultural leaders, respond. So, it’s a big task but without the help of young men and women across the globe, we won’t get it done. I think we can get it done and that’s why I’m very confident that this is a very good path to be on.”
[ON SCREEN TEXT] It’s time to take action. Let us join hands with the youth of the world and strengthen the POP Movement for a sustainable world.
[IMAGE] “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” – Mahatma Gandhi
So I’d like to end by requesting CUMIPAZ to become a partner of the POP Movement, because we’re in it together and this is going to promote peace and let’s get the youth of this region to start taking action on protecting the planet.
Thank you very much.
What a transcendental moment this afternoon. Such a difficult time and look what has happened, we are tuning in this extraordinary keynote speech by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, which indicates many things. One: he says that CUMIPAZ can make a big difference; Dr. William Soto Santiago by his mandate, and Gabriela Lara, are agree of mobilization, that is why he has been our honored guest in the two of the Science sessions of CUMIPAZ 2017, 2018; but we also agree in coming together in all these initiatives, because the POP Movement coincides with the Guardians for the Peace of Mother Earth Movement, it coincides totally so I think so there is a union here between the POP and the Guardians of Mother Earth to work together on that mandate that its giving.
I suggest… maybe we will not do this now, because emotions are high, but we will do two thing: At the end, a picture with Dr. Rajendra Pachauri the Nobel Prize Laureate, where we leave evidence that in CUMIPAZ we are mobilized to fulfill the mandate of the Summit of the agreement in France; and secondly, as the Nobel Laureate deserves, I want everyone to stand up and give a big round of applause to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.