Climate week paves the way for a moral agenda ahead of SDG summit

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As New York Climate Week almost wraps up, political leaders are kicking off a weekend of meetings to hammer out strategies for implementing the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted today. The SDGs to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change will set the tone for the UN’s development agenda from now on through 2030. As part of his US tour, Pope Francis stopped by to address the UN assembly where he called upon global negotiators to take the impacts of climate change on sustainable development seriously, emphasizing that “any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity.” Indeed, climate change and development are intrinsically intertwined, with recent figures from the Overseas Development Institute revealing that nearly 720 million people around the world risk falling back into extreme poverty conditions if emissions aren’t capped by 2100. As this historic week nearly comes to an end, diverse voices are drawing on the momentum to send a clear message to leaders as they pave the way for December climate meetings in Paris: keeping temperatures from rising above 2DegC is a moral imperative requiring swift action for the sake of humanity.

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Key Points

  • Poverty cannot be eradicated without tackling the climate crisis. Developing nations suffer from the harshest climate impacts, highlighting the increasingly clear correlation between climate change and inequality. By facilitating a just transition towards 100 per cent clean energy resources, global leaders would provide development solutions while creating a world safe from runaway climate change.
  • Paris will be the first test for global leaders to prove that they are committed to the new sustainable development agenda. When the SDG summit wraps up on Sunday, global leaders will only be a few short weeks away from drafting another anticipated agreement at the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Paris in December. A robust climate agreement that sets the world on the pathway towards a complete phase-out of fossil fuels and a 100 per cent renewable future will be the first true measure of world leaders’ commitment towards achieving SDGs.

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On the SDGs

  • “We must also deliver a strong agreement at this year’s UN climate summit that delivers for the poorest and ensures that the end of hunger is not pushed out of our grasp. And governments – rich and poor – must build robust implementation plans for the SDGs.” – Winnie Byanima,  Oxfam International Executive Director
  • “The Sustainable Development Goals have made an important step forward in acknowledging that we can’t solve poverty without tackling climate change, but now governments must step up their game by committing at the Paris climate talks this December to put the world on a path to phase out of fossil fuel emissions. Not doing so means we wont stamp out poverty, and we won’t end inequalities – the chief aims of the Global Goals.” – Wael Hmaidan, Director, CAN-International
  • “Many governments will have to drastically alter policies in favour of people and planet if they take this new to-do list for the planet seriously. To tackle poverty and dangerous climate change, we must urgently end the fossil fuel era and deliver 100% renewable energy for all. Governments must deliver on the promise to halt deforestation by 2020. These new global goals will only be achieved if we act fast enough to prevent dangerous climate change. A critical next step is therefore that governments agree to phase out fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy for all by 2050 at the Paris climate summit later this year.” – Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace
  • “There is no development on a dead planet. The only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals will be to rapidly transition the world off of fossil fuels and onto 100% renewable energy. That transition isn’t just necessary: it’s the greatest development opportunity in over a century. A full scale mobilization towards clean energy could lift millions out of poverty. It’s the moral imperative of our time. The goals may be signed here in New York, but they’ll only be truly ratified in Paris, when world leaders must commit to fund a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy. Rich countries, who are responsible for the bulk of emissions, must move first and farthest, ending fossil fuel subsidies, fulfilling their pledge of $100 billion a year of climate finance, and helping mobilize trillions towards the clean energy revolution. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and tackling the climate crisis go hand in hand. ” – May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org
  • “The Sustainable Development Goals should give some much needed impetus for a paradigm shift to a new global economic and political system based on sustainability, human rights and equality. This global agenda should enable a much fairer and greener world for everyone by 2030, but it will only deliver if governments use their political and moral power to put the right policies in place and mobilise all means of implementation to enable the shift away from business-as-usual.” – Leida Rijnhout, Director of Global Policies and Sustainability at the European Environmental Bureau
  • “With the adoption of the SDGs, we are moving into the next era of sustainable development where tackling climate change will be a pre-requisite to achieving the SDGs. The ambitions and challenges of Agenda 2030 have presented to the world the sheer urgency to combat climate change. Our governments need to advance towards the Paris Summit with a clear, ambitious vision for phasing out the main cause of climate change, the burning of polluting fossil fuels, and phasing in 100% renewable energy, while increasing support to poor people to adapt to climate impacts.” – Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe
  • “Game-changing government decisions that benefit both people and the environment come along very rarely and never before at this scale and level of ambition. Today’s decision is about survival. It’s a history-making moment that could fundamentally change how we treat our planet and all of its people. This plan is about survival and prosperity. By accepting nature’s central role in supporting human well-being, the deal will ensure that people around the world will live happier, healthier, more prosperous and hopeful lives.”- Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International

Pope Francis at the UN General Assembly

  • “Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity.” – Pope Francis
  • “The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing “culture of waste.” – Pope Francis
  • The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, even though they are a necessary step toward solutions… Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion.” – Pope Francis
  • “Pope Francis’ UN speech served as a metaphor for his whole US visit, focusing on power, inequality and climate change. He was unequivocal that today’s social and economic exclusion is a total denial of human brotherhood and a grave attack on human rights and the environment. Which other leaders will now step up, join Francis and leave a legacy of which we can be proud?” – Neil Thorns, CAFOD
  • “The world needs a new era of global cooperation to ensure our survival. We must not only hear but also heed Pope Francis’s call to be courageous and work together for the common good. That common good includes our planet, its lands, oceans, rivers, forests and species upon which all life depends. Only through bold action can we avoid leaving today’s challenges, including runaway climate change, to future generations. Our new, shared global plan for sustainable development empowers the world to take cooperative action. Faith guides many in their lives – now we need to have faith in the vision set by the Sustainable Development Goals.” Yolanda Kakabadse, President, WWF International

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