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Historical Earth Day-15 Ratify, 175 U.N. Members Signed the Paris Agreement ©

By Suzanne Maxx
© 2016 World Team Now

Inside the United Nations looking out- Photo Credit World Team Now/Suzanne Maxx

Inside the United Nations looking out- Photo Credit World Team Now/Suzanne Maxx

 

New York, New York USA Today at the United Nations 175 Countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement on opening day, Earth Day! Our World Team project is especially grateful for the leadership on the first 15 United Nations members that both signed and Ratified the Paris Agreement by Earth Day.  This is a critical step to have the legal governmental framework for the revolutionary work to move towards our “100% Renewable Energy” global vision.

 

applaud-15

Original design  © 2016 World Team Now

 

The most vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) know the reality of Climate Change, ironically they have to bare the most severe effects of the most developed regions actions.  Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon’s request for “All hands on deck,” from all U.N. members, comes to relevance especially in places like Fiji.



Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama

Video: UN Web TV footage

 

Just recovering from Tropical Cyclone Winston, with another threat coming at them now, Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama was front and center, contributing and bringing the gravel down to close the day’s session.  Republic of Palau’s President, Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr. captured the spirit of this time proclaiming,   “On days like this you feel like you are part of a team”.

World Team has been on a long journey and search for a location that is eager to make that renewable energy transition.  The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need all the support we can give, and they hold the most promise for World Team project’s public work. SIDS are the most impacted and have the least. When we realize that over 62,000 people are displaced daily from climate or weather related events, it is stunning. Climate change refugees are growing. The funding coming from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will help, but that support needs to have been there yesterday.

For the Paris Agreement to come into force, 55% of the UN’s members must sign and ratify it, and this must account for at least 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. All members have a year, until Earth Day 2017- but obviously, the sooner the better.

Each country created their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for the Paris Agreement, their status is here. Next we need all the INDC to become Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). These contributions are required to be ambitious and progressive, to be updated, increased, and submitted to the U.N. every five years.

The fundamental step of putting the governmental framework into place is happening; the nations are coming up with determined commitments for our species and our planet to help tackle the climate change challenge.  Although what was started in Paris in 2015 is growing with efforts like the Renewable Energy Innovation Plan for Africa; the 70 Initiatives to find a broader solutions; Mission Innovation for Green Technology, and the Carbon Pricing Leadership.  We all realize that this cannot be done by nations alone.

It will take many sectors to build to the change that is sustainable. The action of the signing sends signals to all markets. Some illuminating information was announced and shared over the course of the day. “Taking climate action to the next level: Realizing the vision of the Paris Agreement” was the title for the afternoon.

Key financial and business pledges are being made by entities teaming up to further the global goals of the Paris Agreement.  Anne Stausboll, representing CalPERS, the largest U.S. public pension fund with almost 300 billion dollars in assets gave the update; watch here. She shared that Ceres, a nonprofit organization leading adoption of sustainable business practices, has joined forces with the CalPERS pension fund, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, and the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change. To mobilize the Paris Agreement, 400 investors with 24 trillion dollars in assets have been enrolled. “To achieve the goals of the Agreement, we know the world must invest at least one trillion dollars a year in clean energy for several decades,” she explained, “The Agreement has unleashed an unprecedented opportunity for institutional investors worldwide – a powerful global green light to shape tomorrow’s low-carbon economy.”

The Green Climate Fund which came out of the Paris Agreement is targeted to 100 billion a year in aid to developing countries. President Obama has pledged $3 billion to the GCF over four years. The first $500 million of that pledged amount was transferred. Countries are all together rising to action.  The efforts of the two biggest emitters USA/China is supported by their agreement to one another.

Canada addresses the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement

Canada addresses the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement
Credit: UN Photo

 

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, explained his country is committed to helping developing countries, “Since they should not be punished for a problem they did not create.” Canada’s  $2.56  Billion (USD) pledge is good kindling to ignite a fire of support to assist developing countries to grow to be cleaner, and more sustainable.

Hoesung Lee from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared about how they have accepted the task to integrate science into implementation phase and submit mission reports on “Climate Change and Land Use,” plus reports on “Ocean and Ice”.  In two years they will turn in a report that studies whether emissions targets of 1.5 degrees is the magic number that could halt the growing catastrophic effects of climate change, to see if that is indeed enough action. Private, public, businesses, NGOs financial sectors, and all citizens are all needed to team up, as people come to realize prompt action needs to begin now.

CEO of Unilever Paul Polman highlighted how the business and financial sector are lining up to address climate change:

A report by the New Climate Economy stated 90 trillion will be going to be made over the next 15 years in addressing urbanization and population growth issues and 13.5 trillion is already pledged for clean energy investments, which he said is a “good direction”.

The business and financial sector is making progress with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unilever’s CEO emphasized that climate change is key to 13 of the 17 SDGs. Now to “level” (pun intended) the playing field with energy sectors.  Positive price signals are needed and a subsidy is a negative price signal. We love that the sentiment from Unilever’s leader who said, “That is a negative price on carbon when we need a positive price.” That statement was echoed throughout Earth Day from many speakers. The message to cut fossil fuel subsides, and create a carbon market was clear, and consistently delivered throughout all sectors on Earth Day.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and renowned campaigner of human rights and climate justice. It was lovely to see most speakers wearing the pin with the logo of the colorful SDGs.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and renowned campaigner of human rights and climate justice. It was lovely to see most speakers wearing the pin with the logo of the colorful SDGs. Picture: Captured from UN Web TV footage

 

Mary Robinson declared, “The world must target for 1.5 degrees or below rise and that requires carbon neutrality at, or before 2050. She was empathetic on pointing out that with the Paris Agreement, developing countries now have more responsibility in addressing climate change as each nation has to evaluate their NDCs— the annex 1 or annex 2 countries distinction made in the past is no longer …

Climate Opening

Opening ceremony of Paris Agreement signing
Credit: UN Photo

 

This year’s Earth Day had many events leading up to the big focus of 24 hours of U.N. festivities in New York.  Once again, there were powerful contributions from many of the people instrumental through the World Team journey— champions of the environmental movement over the many years coming together: especially California Gov. Jerry Brown, former US Vice President Al Gore, and even our friend Bertrand Piccard via live web stream from the cockpit of SolarImpulse2  in flight to San Francisco-the next leg of the around the world flight in the solar airplane!  Bertrand said, “More than protecting the environment, it’s the clean technology revolution, the solar airplane is like a smart grid with distributed energy”.  He encouraged leaders saying in the webstream, “Be pioneers for solutions, don’t let resistance take over…”

at the Waldof Astroia during REFF Wall Street in 2013, Andre and Bertrand with World Team Now's Suzanne Maxx.

Andre and Bertrand, pilots of Solar Impulse, with World Team Now’s Suzanne Maxx.

 

Actor, Activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace, Leonardo Di Caprio reminded leaders of their power in choice quoting President Lincoln, “Our case is new, so we must think a new, and act anew.”  He drew the parallel analogy of the defining issue of our time, between being free of fossil fuel, to the past, in being free from slavery. He explained, “Everyone knew it had to end, but no one had the political will to stop it.”  In regards to bold Climate action he exclaimed, “You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them…”



Leonardo Di Caprio inspires leaders to create power for just action.
Video: UN Web TV footage

 

In addition to U.N. member states, states like California are taking significant action on their own. Once again, World Team Now based in New York and California was excited to hear from our Gov. Jerry Brown who spoke about some of the key steps that California has taken and will take— including their own cap and trade program that is also connected with Quebec and Ontario. Al Gore, in comments he made after the afternoon panel Jerry was on, pointed out that California’s leadership under Jerry is from a position of influence— he explained, “If California was a country it would be the 5th largest economy in the world.”



Governor Jerry Brown of California speaks at the Paris Agreement at signing at the United Nations on Earth Day April 22nd.
Video: UN Web TV footage

 

Some of the highlights from New York Mayor de Blasio’s speech shared the commitment to having every new car in New York’s City’s fleet being an electric with the goal of an electric fleet by the year 2025. Retrofits are required in both public and now private buildings and new buildings will have to be 60-80% more efficient than existing buildings.

In India, every light bulb is required to be LED, with the program launched by the government they have driven the cost down for the bulbs by economic demand, and now they are cheaper than other kinds of light bulbs, now priced about 80 cents and about 100 million have been installed  Germany plans to be fossil fuel free by 2050.

President Barack Obama welcomed the signing of the climate agreement and said it will allow all of “our children to inherit a cleaner, healthier, and safer planet.” He said in a statement on Earth Day, “As the world’s second-largest source of  climate pollution, America has a responsibility to act. The stakes are enormous — our planet, our children, our future.

John Kerry Signs Paris Agreement With Granddaughter on Lap High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement

John Kerry Signs Paris Agreement With Granddaughter on Lap
High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement
Credit: UN Photo

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, signed the historical agreement, ensuring it be witnessed by future generations by having his 2-year-old granddaughter Isabelle on his lap. Kerry followed up on President Obama’s Announcement which proclaims that the United States “looks forward to formally joining this agreement this year.”

The two largest carbon emitters, China and US have a plan, and together they look to be turning the tide to insure positive change . Regardless of USA domestic politics both countries have signed and plan to ratify the Paris Agreement.

It has been many years of attending these United Nations Climate events (COPs) dreaming that we could come to an agreement, sign it, and move into action. That day has come, it is here. World Team has been active with Earth Day for decades, but this was the first Earth Day that the distant dream for the global action by world leaders is being realized.

What an action packed period of time, this time has been, with record breaking action from countries around the world, and it’s about time. The pace is set we need for climate action, and the global renewable energy revolution, and it is happening, and it can’t happen quick enough. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are all interrelated and helpful to have delineated. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp3LQrbh-Wo

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moons called for all hands on deck to: "Turn Aspiration Into Action" - Countries Sign Paris Climate Agreement.
Video: UN Web TV footage

 

It was lovely to see most speakers wearing the pin with the logo of the colorful SDGs. We are enthusiastic about the platform World Team will offer for all people as tool for engagement.  We can see this renewable energy revolution is happening, but it will take a team, all of us. We have much to celebrate, yet much to do for humanity to live in balance with our resources and one another here on earth.



United Nations - "Protecting our Planet and Combatting Climate Change" is part of a UN short film series "The Story You are Shaping" produced by HUMAN, which premiered at the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015.
Video: UN Web TV footage

 

Photo highlights of of the UN High-Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change can be found here and a text highlights of the ceremony can be found here. Below are some selected UN videos of the Ceremony:

© 2016 World Team Now

Climate Change- Action for Renewable Energy Policy

By Suzanne Maxx ©

Although Anthropogenic Climate Change is hard to pronounce, it is an even greater challenge to present the information so more people can really understand.

The fact that average citizens still misunderstand this topic was demonstrated to me when I was walking in Malmo, Sweden for the train to Copenhagen, Denmark to the U.N.’s COP15. I met a middle-aged Texan who was travelling on business, while he helped me navigate my luggage through the snow, he said laughing loudly:

“It’s hard to believe there are these people in Copenhagen for a conference on global warming when there is record cold and snow fall, how silly! We had a snowball fight yesterday, and I kept thinking how could they be so foolish?”

This was one of the moments that I was feeling embarrassed about Americans’ lack of illumination on this subject. I tried to explain that it is the name, “Global Warming” that confuses people– Climate Change/Global Warming presents in extreme weather conditions.  I wish I could have explained it to the Texan in Sweden as well as Al Gore did in the New York Times Op-Ed piece this past Sunday –and with as much patience.

Even if one doesn’t comprehend the science of Global Warming, what is hard to understand is how people can actually think that we can pollute our air, or our water, or land, without consequences.   We live here and the earth is alive. It is our home.

To learn more about where we are with these issues check out “State of the Planet” 2010. I have been to this annual event over the past few years and it continues to be quite cutting edge: informative, plus this year they are actually going global.  It is hosted by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, directed by Jeff Sachs to connect voices globally to meet the challenge on Climate Change and Economic Recovery.

EPA’s endangerment findings confirm that we now have massive amounts of scientific evidence validating that; “Green House Gases (GHG) are harmful to our health”.  How can our future and our children’s future not be a priority?  How can we better value our basic resources?  We must realize that pollution doesn’t just disappear.

The peaceful warrior cry of the environmental movement is urging us to take action now since each of us has a role and can do something for our world and the future of humanity.  The creation of strong climate/energy policy on both a national and international level is needed”

World Team Now is teaming up with many of our Clean Energy Week friends, and rallying together to ask you to call your Senators today (and for the next 72 hours) to express the importance of getting some solid “energy legislature” passed in Congress this year.  This is a critical time to get Clean Energy Legislature in the USA.  We are joining a powerful Clean Energy Campaign along with our allies, 1Sky and Alliance for Climate Protection and others…

Once we have solid legislation here in the USA that enables us to take responsibility for our actions, we may have a chance at gaining respect from the international community.  From this position we will increase our chances of gaining cooperation on a global climate policy prior to 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.  Please act now and if you don’t know how to reach your Senators’ office click here.

Again, that daunting question, “How can humanity live in better balance with its resources?

We at World Team Now are focused on demonstrating clean energy solutions and raising public awareness.  Show trust in our democratic process and take action so that the kind of clean energy solutions we spoke about on World Team Now’s Renewable Energy Interactive Teleconference, as part of Clean Energy Week can become both accessible and affordable.

Call your Senators and support not just World Team Now, but also our global environmental movement.  This helps to create green jobs, better ecology for our local environment, and a cleaner earth.  Ask for some solid Clean Energy Policy in order to make solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal more accessible.  This in turn will eventually make it more affordable.  Between now and Earth Day’s 40th Anniversary, April 22nd –let’s have more to celebrate!

Copenhagen”Off Sets” –The Big Picture Game

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

 

Copenhagen Cont’d. 

Think Global: Act Local Act for ALL

by Suzanne Maxx

 

We put the countdown to Copenhagen’s Climate Conference up on World Team Now’s website with exactly how much time we have left, because of the mounting pressure to have some specific measurable results in Copenhagen (UNFCCC).  The importance of raising awareness about this critical global treaty for our world is palpable — especially now before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 as per the road map created in Bali, approved by the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference.  There are several events designed to increase the chances of Copenhagen’s success from the UN’s framework; one announced at G20 by President Obama.  The USA will host a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” in a preparatory session with 16 major economies, April 27th & 28th in Washington DC. to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming according to The White House, inviting both “developed” and “developing” counties. The U. N. scheduled events leading up to Copenhagen, the first round was March 29th –April 8th, the others are June 1st-12th and then August 10th-14th all of these in Bonn, Germany; September 28th-October 9th in Bangkok and last November 2nd-6th with the location to be confirmed.  In addition to these events Media Mogul turned Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi will host a conference in La Maddalena, Italy in July, riding G8. These events intend to strengthen communications, and step up points of agreement such as deforestation and clear cutting of tropical rainforests, global levels we can cut carbon emissions that will at least create sustainability, a deadline date, and a plan for enforceability, all so the Summit in Copenhagen we will end up with a global treaty with targets that are reasonable.  So far the areas of agreement are around clear cutting our trees and rainforests, the precious lungs of our planet — the logging and burning of which accounts for a fifth of CO2 pollution. When I flew over these sites of deforestation I wept with the pain of baring witness to a massacre.

 

There is a need for a leadership position here amongst all the countries that are members of the UN that demand “the lead by example” model of accountability. With the help of some behind the scenes experts and people who have spend years in the financial world designing a market made of “carbon off sets”, or the cost of pollution, like the UK & USA team, Blood and Gore-they have a first movers advantage as does the USA now with “green” opportunity.  I am not sure if China’s push for a global currency reserve should be dismissed easily. This is one of the first times in my life since beginning World Team in 1989, which I have not been embarrassed about being born in the United States, since embarking on this mission.  Obama’s stand for change shows he is willing to pick up where Gore left off with regards to the environment, and to carve out an action plan by 2012 on the premise of the Carbon offset game that would auction the U.S.’ emission trading credits and cut back  to 1990 emission levels by 2020. The Dec 7-18 conference will map out what is next for the future with an emission reduction plan, and hopefully spell out a game of carbon credits, wherein the caps-and-trade are offsets and will become a global market with commodities that will re-value and transform our monetary system, but with new legislation, if all goes according to plan.

In time for the events that happened in Bonn this March and perhaps going by the “big picture” plan, Chairman Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman Edward J. Markey of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee drafted clean energy legislation for the USA. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is a comprehensive approach to America’s energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy.  According to Waxman, “The American Clean Energy and Security Act” will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America’s energy independence, and cut global warming pollution and for more detailed information visit the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s site .

The stakes are high, it is our future and if you still don’t believe all the scientists who have proven that our planet is warming by human activities, NASA‘s look and this new report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows the decade-long trend of shrinking sea ice cover is continuing at a surprisingly fast rate. New evidence from satellite observations show ice caps thinning as well. Researchers from the Snow and Ice Center report the largest cover this winter was 278-thousand square miles less than the average largest cover for 1979 to 2000, making this winter’s maximum ice extent the fifth lowest on record. They explain, “Arctic sea ice works like an air conditioner for the global climate system. It naturally cools air and water masses, plays a key role in ocean circulation, and reflects solar radiation back into space. Scientists believe ice cover to be an important measure of the health of the Arctic.  Look at the vanishing ice to bear witness to the change of our earth. 

 If you are wonder what you can do about all of this besides trying to understand it, join World Team Now, and allow the synergy of team to move us all into a responsible future, and join us in celebrating Earth Day,

 

Copenhagan-The Big Picture

 

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

 

Think Global: Act Local  Act for ALL 

By Suzanne Maxx

The reality of one home and shared resources for us all is starting to take priority for many who had been previously concerned only about personal survival or achievement.    Global philanthropy is an at all time high —  ironically this comes at a time when personal survival is challenged and despite these times many people seem to  continue to seek the bigger picture, beyond their own challenges.  Regardless of country, we are all dealing with the world now, and our potential future.  We all have a need for air, water, earth, and energy.  Our collective resources are shared and how we use them regardless of where we are, affects us all.  An emergent question is how we put a value or “price” on responsibility to these elements.  What can that replace or transform our present monetary structures and support the global “eco”mony/ology ?  This is what humanity is beginning to awaken to with our global environmental movement.  How do we live on earth in balance with our resources?
 
Growth is challenging.  Is there a higher reason we all are being called to look at the way we have structured the game of life in our world now? Here’s to human evolution, and global transformation.

 

This is an exciting time for those of living inside the environmental and social movement for two decades or more…. Our time is now — people, like you are listening, and want to participate, as we are all stake holders in our children’s home.  With perseverance, the battles to convince people of the existence of environmental and social challenges facing the planet are not over, but we have succeeded to begin to educate the masses.  Multi-media telecommunications have shrunk the world, and some powerful leaders (without countries) have emerged on the global scene — thank you, Yvo de Boer, Al Gore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Bono. Now the challenge lies in doing the work to create the change in enough time for the change to take hold so humanity has more options.  The speed at which we are able to move now is exhilarating, if not overwhelming.  Just when I’m ready to post about G20”, or “solar energy”, something changes or the technology advances — it is a challenge to keep pace with accuracy with the speed at which the transformation is happening.  Please forgive me if by the time you are reading this the information is obsolete.

For the future direction of humanity and our global environment, one thing is clear; there is a lot riding on the potential of the upcoming United Nation’s Conference in Copenhagen.   The possibility of a global treaty that is enforceable and honored by the world for our world — could be a global game changer or life transformer.  One of the challenges with the U.N. model is the way the world is divided, described, and regulated — by the concepts of categorizing countries by their “development”.  Is there a more powerful framework to view with the world?  Does it serve us to label the USA as “developed” and China and India as “developing” nations?  We have to at least try to work within the U.N.’s global framework as it is the only global framework we have now.  Just like we have to work within our challenged systems like our legal, educational, political, monetary and healthcare systems, as that is what we have now.  How can the “systems” better serve humanity, and what role can the machine play in the transformation?

The outcome of a powerful Global Treaty could be like what The Constitution is for the USA, or like what the Declaration of Human Rights distinguishes for the world. Personally I have been following this dream of a global treaty for our environment, since Rio De Janeiro 1992, when I was there where it all began in the global community, at The Earth Summit/Global Forum.  Then the treaty was just emerging as the “The Climate Change Treaty” or more formally; “The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), with more nations ratifying this global document than any other in the history of our world — for our environment. The idea behind the climate treaty is aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent change in our climate system.  It became The Kyoto Protocol, after a rocky history of trying to get the USA to ratify, but the distinctions between developing and developed countries made the playing field questionable, when developing giants like China and India would not have to play by the same rules as the USA, for more history click here.  The UNFCCC or FCCC roots grew back to The Earth Summit /Global Forum, formerly The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The acronym “UNCED” remained the joke that many told which summed up a strong underlying truth, of the outcome for many with the frustration of what was “UN-SAID” in the United Nations’ conferences. We believe at World Team Now name’s are significant.  What about a new name for what could become “The Copenhagen Treaty” (It would be nice if we could evolve past the place it was created, and call it something that could have meaning for all in the World;  like “The World’s Action Treaty for Environmental  Resources and Sustainability”, with the acronym; “WATERS”…. This name is more encompassing as it could allow the off set, trading game to apply to more than Climate Change but also to other environmental contaminants that affect our earth and humanity offing a reward for the clean up, and cost to pay for those who chose to take our collective resources.
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Alternative Energy

The possibilities present at this time with alternative energies are exciting. This cross roads for humanity now, as we become more conscious of resources by being deliberate in how we use them, is certainly a balancing challenge. But this is an unprecedented time as there are more people taking action, and joining together to find solutions. That is what we at Team World Corps (TWC) are about– growing that environmental/social “movement,” thanks for joining us.

Over a year ago some of you remember we were in a dialog with VP Al Gore regarding the World Team project and his participation in sending the World Team on their “mission”. Last week he sent the world on a mission, with a powerful speech where he challenged the world to make a change to alternative energy within the next 10 year.

This is may be one of those history-making speeches, and may it only come close to the influence and an action of Rev. Martin Luther King’s, Nelson Mandela’s and Kennedy’s as Gore references below:

Al Gore: A Generational Challenge to Repower America
“Ladies and gentlemen:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that’s been worrying me.

I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges – the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of “solutions summits” with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation’s problems, we need a new start.

That’s why I’m proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It’s not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here’s what’s changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power – coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal – have radically changed the economics of energy.

When I first went to Congress 32 years ago, I listened to experts testify that if oil ever got to $35 a barrel, then renewable sources of energy would become competitive. Well, today, the price of oil is over $135 per barrel. And sure enough, billions of dollars of new investment are flowing into the development of concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, windmills, geothermal plants, and a variety of ingenious new ways to improve our efficiency and conserve presently wasted energy.

And as the demand for renewable energy grows, the costs will continue to fall. Let me give you one revealing example: the price of the specialized silicon used to make solar cells was recently as high as $300 per kilogram. But the newest contracts have prices as low as $50 a kilogram.

You know, the same thing happened with computer chips – also made out of silicon. The price paid for the same performance came down by 50 percent every 18 months – year after year, and that’s what’s happened for 40 years in a row.

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.”

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people’s appetite for change.

I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

What could we do instead for the next 10 years? What should we do during the next 10 years? Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something 40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless. Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But 8 years and 2 months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

We could further increase the value and efficiency of a Unified National Grid by helping our struggling auto giants switch to the manufacture of plug-in electric cars. An electric vehicle fleet would sharply reduce the cost of driving a car, reduce pollution, and increase the flexibility of our electricity grid.

At the same time, of course, we need to greatly improve our commitment to efficiency and conservation. That’s the best investment we can make.

America’s transition to renewable energy sources must also include adequate provisions to assist those Americans who would unfairly face hardship. For example, we must recognize those who have toiled in dangerous conditions to bring us our present energy supply. We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them.

Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.

In order to foster international cooperation, it is also essential that the United States rejoin the global community and lead efforts to secure an international treaty at Copenhagen in December of next year that includes a cap on CO2 emissions and a global partnership that recognizes the necessity of addressing the threats of extreme poverty and disease as part of the world’s agenda for solving the climate crisis.

Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that our government so often adopts a so-called solution that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem it is supposed to address? When people rightly complain about higher gasoline prices, we propose to give more money to the oil companies and pretend that they’re going to bring gasoline prices down. It will do nothing of the sort, and everyone knows it. If we keep going back to the same policies that have never ever worked in the past and have served only to produce the highest gasoline prices in history alongside the greatest oil company profits in history, nobody should be surprised if we get the same result over and over again. But the Congress may be poised to move in that direction anyway because some of them are being stampeded by lobbyists for special interests that know how to make the system work for them instead of the American people.

If you want to know the truth about gasoline prices, here it is: the exploding demand for oil, especially in places like China, is overwhelming the rate of new discoveries by so much that oil prices are almost certain to continue upward over time no matter what the oil companies promise. And politicians cannot bring gasoline prices down in the short term.

However, there actually is one extremely effective way to bring the costs of driving a car way down within a few short years. The way to bring gas prices down is to end our dependence on oil and use the renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline.

Many Americans have begun to wonder whether or not we’ve simply lost our appetite for bold policy solutions. And folks who claim to know how our system works these days have told us we might as well forget about our political system doing anything bold, especially if it is contrary to the wishes of special interests. And I’ve got to admit, that sure seems to be the way things have been going. But I’ve begun to hear different voices in this country from people who are not only tired of baby steps and special interest politics, but are hungry for a new, different and bold approach.

We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It’s time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I’m asking you – each of you – to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at wecansolveit.org.We need you. And we need you now. We’re committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

On July 16, 1969, the United States of America was finally ready to meet President Kennedy’s challenge of landing Americans on the moon. I will never forget standing beside my father a few miles from the launch site, waiting for the giant Saturn 5 rocket to lift Apollo 11 into the sky. I was a young man, 21 years old, who had graduated from college a month before and was enlisting in the United States Army three weeks later.

I will never forget the inspiration of those minutes. The power and the vibration of the giant rocket’s engines shook my entire body. As I watched the rocket rise, slowly at first and then with great speed, the sound was deafening. We craned our necks to follow its path until we were looking straight up into the air. And then four days later, I watched along with hundreds of millions of others around the world as Neil Armstrong took one small step to the surface of the moon and changed the history of the human race.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.”

These words further validate our cause with Team World Corps and World Team and our focus now on energy.

Let’s hold that vision, eloquently expressed by VP Gore–as a team, and take that challenge!

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