Only A Just And Strong Climate Deal Can Avert Disaster

The international climate summit in Paris is widely seen as our last chance to prevent climate change wreaking a terrible toll on global lives and livelihoods. As we rapidly approach the tipping point beyond which climate change may become irreversible, we risk denying future generations their right to a livable, sustainable planet.

So: what needs to be done? Crucially, the heads of state and government and their teams of negotiators in Paris need to recognise that climate change is a human-rights and justice issue as well as an economic and environmental one.

In September this year, these same heads of state and government came together at the UN in New York to agree on the new Sustainable Development Goals. This was a landmark moment, building on the success of the Millennium Development Goals and placing sustainability at the heart of the global development agenda.

I was particularly heartened by the adoption of the SDGs because nearly 30 years ago, I chaired a UN Commission that issued the report “Our Common Future,” which described the emerging environmental and social threats and called for radical change to promote sustainable development to safeguard humanity and Planet Earth.

The SDGs show how far these concepts, once deemed radical and idealistic, are now firmly embedded in the mainstream of policymakers’ agenda. This is something to celebrate.

Yet without a strong agreement in Paris, the SDGs will not be deliverable — instead, development goals achieved to date will be wiped out by the impacts of climate change. The disastrous consequences of such a failure will be felt by us all, through extreme weather conditions, droughts, famines and natural disasters, but also through the increased conflicts and refugee crises that we know follow on from scarcity of natural resources and swathes of land becoming unlivable as a result of climate change.

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