Celebrities lead TED’s global call to act on climate crisis


San Francisco (AFP)

With a call to ‘fix our climate’ by 2030, Prince William on Saturday joined a global array of activists, artists, celebrities and politicians attending a free-aired TED event aimed at mobilizing and unifying people to deal with the climate crisis.

“The common goals of our generation are clear,” Prince William said in a video message kicking off the event, dubbed Countdown.

“Together, we must protect and restore nature, purify our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world and repair our climate. ”

The countdown opened with a focus on how environmental damage also fuels social and racial injustice.

“Black people breathe the most toxic air compared to the general population, and it is people of color who are most at risk of suffering from the climate crisis,” said British MP David Lammy.

“It gives a whole new meaning to Black Lives Matter’s slogan ‘I can’t breathe’. ”

Lammy called on climate and social justice leaders to join forces, and a new international “ecocidal” law to criminalize “the most serious actions against nature itself.”

More than 65,000 people were watching the livestream when former US Vice President Al Gore and 22-year-old actor Jaden Smith opened a session dedicated to youth voices and the need for businesses to adopt climate solutions.

Businesses that make their fortunes from fossil fuels or other greenhouse gas-emitting operations do damage they don’t pay for, while funneling money to politicians who help preserve the status quo, said US economist Rebecca Henderson.

“We are letting capitalism turn into something monstrous,” Henderson said in a speech. “It will be difficult to keep free enterprise alive if most people believe that the rich and white are trashing the planet for their own benefit. ”

She called on companies to step up their efforts for the climate.

The five-hour Countdown event showcased the mix of arts, ideas and innovation that have become hallmarks of TED lectures.

“The climate can’t wait,” said Chris Anderson, director of TED.

“If there is one thing we surely need to learn this year, it is that when scientists warn you that there is something terrible to come, you have to be careful. ”

The countdown has shed light on scientific evidence of the damage climate change is inflicting on the health of the planet, but its main focus was on how people can help stop it, organizers said.

The mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, for example, explained a plan to plant a million trees to protect against flooding and to absorb carbon dioxide.

Speakers also included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, young Mexican activist Xiye Bastida and actor Chris Hemsworth.

Hundreds of small “TEDx” events have taken place simultaneously around the world to encourage local action.

– The climate knows no politics –

The countdown has come as some world leaders have taken up the issue of climate change for political ends.

US President Donald Trump recently sparked outrage by suggesting that global warming would reverse and dismissing climate change as a cause of the fierce fires that are ravaging vast swathes of the American West.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, warned the topic was “politicized”.

“But”, she added, “democracies have a way of changing the rulers of these countries.”

Droughts, floods, wildfires and other climate-related disasters do not control people’s politics before they ruin their lives, she noted.

“It’s about responsibility to the human race – what unites us, not what divides us,” she said.

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who helped host the event, said those who refuse to find climate solutions “will be the ones we see refusing to respond to the reality of the pandemic in a scientific and reality-based way.” .

– ‘Bugle call’ –

Countdown organizers have set a goal of mobilizing governments and citizens to halve greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade and achieve net zero carbon pollution by 2050.

Anderson called Countdown “a clear call” to tackle the daunting challenges of climate change.

“But it’s also a day of hope that there is a way to get there and that we need to walk it together. ”

The TED Talks, which began as intimate gatherings in California 36 years ago, have evolved into a global media platform devoted to “ideas worth spreading.”

The TED branded presentations, in which speakers strive to give “the talk of their lives” in 18 minutes, have garnered huge success.


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