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Dear Planetary Steward, Dear friend of the Global Commons Alliance,
“Our resilient societies have moved from an extractive to a regenerative relationship with nature. It’s no longer medically hazardous to go outside in major cities due to air pollution. Millions of lives are saved each year as a consequence.”
This visionary quote is from a speech delivered last week by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, in Baku, Azerbaijan, which will host COP29 at the end of the year. He invited his audience to imagine that it is 2050 and the world has succeeded in limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and protecting all life on Earth.
It’s a bold but not impossible vision. The pathway to get there is going to require courage and transformational systems change across sectors, geographies and scales in world that’s currently living beyond the Safe and Just boundaries with devastating impacts:
This week huge wildfires in Chile killed 112 people – with hundreds still missing. In the US, half a year’s worth of rain fell within 24 hours across California, wrecking communities and nature. On top of the current record global average temperatures, extreme ocean temperatures are putting pressure on marine life and worsening weather on land. Last year was the hottest year in history and this one is likely to be hotter.
That’s why action on the ground now is so important. Last week citizens in Paris voted for higher parking charges for SUV’s – the most polluting vehicles, which will drive behavior change in the city and help clean up the air. France has also recently made composting mandatory in a bid to cut food waste and emissions.
There’s new legislation in the EU to ban misleading environmental claims, aka greenwashing. Tomorrow it is hoped the EU Council will vote for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which requires companies to tackle environmental harms and human rights violations within their value chains. And even amidst new record profits from the fossil fuel industry, one of the giants – Saudi Aramco – said it had dropped plans to expand oil production, yet another signal of the inexorable global energy transition to clean renewables.
I was in Stockholm last week with the esteemed and inspiring set of scientists that make up the Earth Commission. They are now embarking on their next stage of scientific work to improve our understanding of the most effective ways to shift society towards a Safe and Just future – and how to stay there long-term. The group has been strengthened with greater regional and thematic representation and additional emphasis on expertise of social justice and behavioral science.
The energy in the room was palpable and there was a strong recognition of the need to couple transformation in governance and economic models alongside highlighting the most effective levers and pathways for restoring stability in Earth’s systems to support all people. Through connecting the work of the Earth Commission into that of the whole Global Commons Alliance – and by quantifying the positive storylines – we aim to reach and mobilize actors in cities, companies and countries.
Turning visions of a regenerative future, like the one Simon Steill articulated, into reality is all of our responsibility, and we’re proud to be playing a part in it.
With all my best wishes,
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