Elders call for climate action on behalf of those at greatest risk

the elders

The Elders includes Gro Bruntland (center) and Mary Robinson (right). Creative Commons: Lena Dahlstrom, 2005

As the world’s elite gather for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss global risks, The Elders – a group of accomplished political leaders working for peace and justice – have used their moral leadership to call for urgent climate action.

Founded by Nelson Mandela, the group includes the likes of Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, and is intervening in the discourse to speak out on behalf of those who will face the greatest climate risks yet have “no voice,” including marginalized people and future generations.

The statement appeared in major newspapers all over the world, and makes an appeal to governments to bring courageous leadership to the negotiating table in order to create a carbon-neutral world by 2050 – beginning with the UN Secretary General’s climate summit in September 2014.

The Elders are: the late Nelson Mandela, Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Fernando Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Graca Machel, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu and Ernesto Zedillo.

The Elders’ statement:

When Nelson Mandela formed the Elders in 2007 to promote peace and human rights across the world, he challenged us to be bold and to give a voice to those who have none. No issue demands these qualities more than our collective failure to tackle climate change.

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. It threatens the well-being of hundreds of millions of people today and many billions more in the future. It undermines the human rights to food, water, health and shelter — causes for which we, as Elders, have fought all our lives.

No one and no country will escape the impact of climate change. But those with no voice — because they are already marginalized or are not yet born — are at greatest risk. The Elders have an urgent moral duty to speak out on their behalf.

Given the compelling weight of evidence, it can be hard to understand why anyone is still dragging his or her feet on the coordinated action needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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