G8 countries urged to act

Feature story - July 7, 2009
On the eve of the G8 summit in Italy - our activists have been beaming a message on the Kremlin and floating a life-sized iceberg past the Eiffel tower to call for urgent action from world leaders to save the climate.

Politicians talk, leaders act!

On the evening of the first day of Russia-US summit being held in the Kremlin, we reminded Presidents' Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama of their responsibility to take leadership in agreeing plans to avert catastrophic climate change. Our activists used a laser projector to create a call to action visible from President Obama's hotel: "Leaders Act! Save Climate!"

Russian roulette?

We are demanding that Medvedev and Obama quit gambling with our future and take personal responsibility preventing runaway climate change and the massive social and environmental disaster that would ensue. We're asking them to personally attend the UN Climate Summit in December and to guarantee a good deal for the climate.

To avoid catastrophic climate change, developed countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and lower them as close to zero as possible by 2050. But, both Russian and the US emission plans are far from what is required to solve the problem. Currently Washington has planned cuts amounting to only 14 percent of their current level by 2020. And, in Russia, by 2020, the volume of greenhouse emissions would actually increase by a dangerous 36 percent from their current level.

At their first meeting in April this year, the Presidents of Russia and the US agreed to open a new page in their relationship. Tackling climate change must be on that page. We welcome any progress on nuclear disarmament during this meeting. But, the planet faces an additional human made threat - climate change. We must not only end the threat of a nuclear winter but avertcatastrophic global warming at the same time.

Ice, ice Sarkozy?

Early this morning, Greenpeace activists in France were highlighting the climate crises by floating a life-sized mock iceberg on the River Seine towards the Eiffel tower. They also gave a clear message to President Sarkozy and his counterparts by holding banners at the foot of the iceberg, stating "Sarkozy : climate leadership now" and "G8: climate leadership now". With only five months to the UN Climate Summit, the G8 countries need to commit to serious and binding emission cuts.

The average global temperature is increasing to dangerous levels due to the release of hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past two and a half centuries. Ice shelves are collapsing, glaciers are shrinking and sea levels are rising. Without strong measures from the G8 heads of state to keep temperature rise as far below 2 degrees Celcius as possible we will see mass migration, mass extinctions and mass starvation.

The clean energy and efficiency technologies needed to reduce emissions already exist and the world has enough financial resources to switch to these technologies. But the main block is the sheer lack of political will.

A million climate saving jobs

At a time of economic recession, G8 leaders are clearly reluctant to make dramatic changes. But, one million more jobs would be created in G8 countries by 2020 if the leaders of these wealthy countries agreed to switch from coal and other climate-destroying conventional energy sources to renewables, in order to help slash carbon emissions and avoid a climate catastrophe.

Our latest Energy [R]evolution research shows that this bold move would provide one million jobs in renewables alone -- 460,000 more jobs in the energy sector than would be available if they stay on the business as usual carbon-intensive path. This would cut power-related C02 emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The quickest way to get people back to work, kick-start sustainable economic growth is clear, G8 leaders must tackle the twin crises of global economic recession and climate change together. Continuing prosperity depends on preserving the environment and tackling climate change. It is not a choice of green jobs or dirty jobs, but green jobs or ecological and social collapse.

Watch this space

All eyes will be on the G8 summit this week - and we have policy advisers there to report back on how the meeting unravels. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, our scientific expedition team has already come across disturbing signs ofaccelerating climate change. Our ship, Arctic Sunrise, is in the Nares Strait, an area that is normally covered in ice until August, but already it is free of ice. In the words of one of the scientists on board, Dr Jason Box, it is "unprecedented that in an area of 450 km of open water we haven't even bumped into a single ice flow." 

We're also documenting the impacts of climate change in the Pacific where another one of our ships, Esperanza, is on a tour of the Cook Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu. Both of these ship tours are highlighting the urgent need for world leaders to act now: to take personal responsibility for tackling climate change and guaranteeing a good deal for the climate in Copenhagen this December.

Take Action!

Tell President Obama to go to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen and ensure that strong and binding targets are set in order for us to avert catastrophic climate change.

Support Us

We use creative confrontation to draw attention to the climate issue and pressure world leaders to take action. Beaming urgent messages on landmark buildings and sending ice-bergs down famous rivers is possible thanks to donations from individuals like you. Please give what you can.