160 leading environmentalists from 44 countries have called on foundations and philanthropists to use endowments worth billions of dollars to turn the tide on global warming.
Jeremy Leggett speaks out – environmentalists’ appeal on climate: the full case.
The group, all winners of major environmental awards, issued their call to action in an ‘Environmental Laureates’ Declaration on Climate Change’, published in the International New York Times, a week before world leaders arrive in New York for a UN Climate Summit. Funds to publish and publicise the declaration were raised on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, with £30,000 contributed by 240 people.
The laureates speak
The long list of names on the declaration includes figures with national and international reputations such as Aimée Christensen (USA), Paul Gilding (Australia), Prof Dr Ernst von Weizsäcker (Germany), Peggy Liu (China), Dr Harish Hande (India), Jeunesse Park (South Africa) and Dr Jeremy Leggett (UK).
In a full page advertisement in the International New York Times the environmental laureates warn that the world is ‘heading for 4°C to 6°C of global warming, given current policies on the burning of coal, oil and gas’.
‘We, 160 winners of the world’s environmental prizes, call on foundations and philanthropists everywhere to deploy their endowments immediately in the effort to save civilization,’ say the laureates. ‘The world’s philanthropic foundations, given the scale of their endowments, hold the power to trigger a survival reflex in society, so greatly helping those negotiating the climate treaty.’
They say they are ‘terrified that we will lose our ability to feed ourselves, run out of potable water, increase the scope for war, and cause the very fabric of civilization to crash.’ Their comments are based on warnings from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Danger of ‘stranded assets’
In the declaration they argue that climate change on this scale will not only devalue or destroy all the good work done by the world’s foundations, it will also erode the worth of their huge endowments, leaving them with ‘stranded assets’ in companies damaged by the consequences of global warming.