from: "From Ecologist (forwarded)" <B.J.H.MatthewsatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: Ecologist climate declaration (fwd)
The "Ecologist" have asked me to forward this declaration to many people
concerned about climate change. They will shortly be publishing a climate
special issue, which will include the declaration below, to which they hope
you might add your signature.
***** Please reply to the ecologist addresses below, not to me! I am only
forwarding the message. *****
The introductory letter and declaration are appended below. Please email
The Ecologist if you prefer to read it as a Word document or a fax.
Apologies if you received this message more than once.
46 The Vineyard, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6AN
Tel: +44 (0)181 332 7718 Fax: +44 (0)181 948 6787 Email:
FROM: TEDDY GOLDSMITH
I am writing to invite you to sign an important declaration calling upon
governments to take immediate action to prevent seriously disruptive climate
In early March, The Ecologist magazine shall be publishing a special issue
devoted entirely to climate change, covering the irrefutable evidence of
human impact upon the climate, the effects this will have on every aspect of
our lives, the grossly inadequate nature of the political response so far,
and what should and can be done now to avoid the worst.
The declaration reflects the content of the issue and strongly makes the
case for action. It shall be published in the magazine and in newspaper
advertisements as part of a campaign to raise public and political awareness
about the problem and how to solve it.
We are inviting many prominent individuals and groups to sign the
declaration from every part of the world - north and south, east and west
and across the political spectrum - in the hope of strengthening a viable
consensus to affect change.
Given the difficulties involved in arriving at the consensus that has so far
been achieved, we hope you will appreciate the enormous problems that would
arise if changes were sought in the text of the declaration at this stage.
If there is to be progress to prevent this terrible problem, it is of the
utmost importance that as much pressure is applied as possible to force the
pace of change. Once you have read the declaration, we sincerely hope you
will be able to sign it.
On the last page of the declaration there is a marked space for your
signature. Please fax us back this page once signed. You are welcome to call
if you have any questions.
Given our very tight deadline for publication, we would be most grateful if
you could get back to us as soon as possible, before February 19.
THE ECOLOGIST�S DECLARATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We, the undersigned, call upon the world�s political and corporate leaders
to take immediate action to prevent seriously disruptive climate change.
Evidence of human impact upon the earth�s climate is now irrefutable. We
have emitted enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to commit the
climate to change. If we carry on as we are, we can expect a rapidly
worsening situation that - because of the long life of emissions in the
atmosphere - will continue for centuries to come. Within a global trend of
rising temperatures that could reach levels in the next century that our
species has never previously experienced, our climate will become more and
more unstable, marked by extreme and unseasonal weather.
Such climatic destabilisation will have dire consequences for every part of
the world, every sector of society and every aspect of our lives. Our health
and food supplies will be affected dramatically by increased droughts, heat
waves and the spread of disease-bearing insects and pests in response to
rising temperatures. Agricultural land and our towns and cities will also
suffer substantial damage from rising sea levels, and increased flooding and
violent storms, with huge costs for industry and ordinary people as their
homes and livelihoods are destroyed. The scientists of the UN�s
Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change predict that millions of people
worldwide will die and millions of others will become environmental refugees
as a result.
The effects of climate change are being felt even now. Global temperatures
are rising at a rate faster than for 10,000 years, with the 12 hottest years
in recorded history occurring since 1980. There has also been a sharp rise
in extreme weather events, with a significant increase in the frequency and
intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes, large floods and heat waves in the last
20 years that have left a trail of devastation to infrastructure and
agriculture in their wake.
The extent of climatic destabilisation is likely to be even more severe than
previously thought if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unchecked.
As warming increases, vital natural processes upon which we depend to absorb
or contain three-quarters of our greenhouse gas emissions - such as the
carbon dioxide-absorbing function of the world�s forests and oceans - would
weaken and even cease to operate. Instead of being net �sinks,� they will
become net sources of greenhouse gases.
Hence, if emissions continue to rise unchecked, we risk releasing billions
of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere as rising temperatures trigger a
huge die-back of trees, causing billions of acres of South American
rainforest to turn into desert before 2050, the UK Met Office�s Hadley
Centre predicts. If this and other positive feedbacks occur - and they could
well do so within the next few decades - we could find ourselves in a
situation of catastrophic, runaway climatic destabilisation.
Yet the political and corporate response to this problem has been grossly
inadequate. To stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at non-catastrophic
levels, the UN�s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 1990
that greenhouse gas emissions from human sources would have to be reduced
immediately by at least 60 percent below 1990 levels. At Kyoto, however,
developed countries agreed to a cut of just 5.2 percent, to be achieved
between 2008 and 2012. Worse, the US Congress has refused to ratify the US�
Kyoto commitment. Even if the Kyoto targets were met, given that developing
countries are under no obligation to prevent their emissions from continuing
to increase, global emissions will rise to 30 percent above 1990 levels by
We deplore the lack of serious political action to address this issue and we
deplore attempts by many large corporations to block meaningful change. For
short-term gain, they seem willing to jeopardise the welfare, indeed
survival, of a large part of humanity.
If catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, we call upon our
governments to take the following action without delay:
� Accept the goal of reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the
atmosphere to 1990 levels - around 350 parts per million by volume (ppmv),
whilst never exceeding 400ppmv. A higher concentration (including that
proposed by the EU of 550ppmv - almost twice the pre-industrial level) would
involve straying into a danger zone of catastrophic climatic instability.
� To achieve this goal, a target of 30 years to have cut CO� emissions by
70-80 percent below 1990 levels, and 50 years for a near total phase-out of
fossil fuels should be adopted. This is the very minimum that the current
crisis demands. While it may be challenging for many countries, it is the
political will to implement policy options which is the biggest challenge,
not the technological one.
� Implement nothing less than a crash programme to meet these targets.
Measures should be put in place to significantly reduce energy use. Our
remaining energy requirements should be met by a combination of existing
renewable energy technologies - quite feasible if invested in sufficiently
and produced on a large enough scale.
� Transfer all public subsidies and encourage the transfer of private
investment away from supporting fossil fuels and cars towards supporting
ecologically sustainable renewables and public transport. This applies in
equal measure to loans and investments to developing countries from the
industrialised world and the international financial institutions. It should
be recognised that in developing countries, where dependence upon fossil
fuels is less, it will be far easier to turn rapidly towards a renewable
energy path. Everything should be done, therefore, to enable this.
� Change taxation systems to reflect the need to discourage the use of
fossil fuels and cars.
� End the exploration and development of new oil, coal and gas reserves
immediately. To assure this, a protocol should be established under the
auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), to co-ordinate the phasing out of fossil fuel production
worldwide, based on a model such as the Petroleum Conservation Protocol
(published by the Centre for Global Energy Studies).
� Set in place a far more effective, inclusive and hence equitable
international political mechanism to curb the consumption of fossil fuels in
all countries. The only realistic means proposed so far of achieving this is
a formal global programme of �Contraction and Convergence,� as advocated by
GLOBE International (the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced
Environment) and by an increasing number of governments in Europe, Africa
and the majority of southern countries in the so-called Group of 77 and China.
� Recognise that the avoidance of serious climate change cannot succeed
without the protection of the planet�s natural sinks.
� Hence, take immediate action to stop the continued destruction of the
world�s remaining forests, particularly tropical rainforests - critical for
the stability of global climate. At the international level, legally-binding
forest protection must be negotiated, even if this requires the provision of
compensation to those countries that possess the principal standing forests.
In developed countries, consumption of wood and wood-derived paper will have
to be reduced by two-thirds. Measures should also be put in place to ensure
massive reforestation, while avoiding monoculture plantations of fast
growing exotics where possible.
� Take immediate action to eliminate all ozone-depleting chemicals -
responsible for a hole in the ozone layer that in 1998 was larger than ever
- and that are still being produced despite the Montreal Protocol. Also,
make the removal of CFCs from all appliances prior to disposal a legal
requirement. Unless this is achieved, the phytoplankton in the oceans, upon
which we depend to absorb carbon dioxide, will continue to be destroyed by
increasing ultraviolet radiation.
� Transfer all public subsidies away from supporting industrial agriculture,
which is largely responsible for the unrelenting destruction of our
agricultural soils - another important sink for carbon dioxide - and for
substantial emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Instead,
a rapid transition to low impact, ecologically-based organic farming for
local consumption should be promoted.
� Reverse the current subordination of ecological and social imperatives to
the short-term interests of corporations and investors and the maximisation
of world trade. Large-scale global trade massively increases the distance
goods are transported, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions, whilst
simultaneously exerting powerful deregulatory pressures that prohibit
governments from raising environmental standards. Hence, the provision of
subsidies and the signing of treaties that increase this trend should cease.
A change of direction towards the nurturing of a network of more
self-sustaining, local economies and an end to undemocratic corporate
influence on the political process is essential.
Whilst the changes that are required may seem great, we are not calling upon
people to make huge sacrifices. All of the measures that we have outlined,
essential to prevent dangerous climatic disruption, are needed whether or
not our climate were in danger, as they will help solve many of the other
major problems that confront us today, such as unemployment, ill health and
threats to peace. Implementing these measures will ensure that -
� more jobs are created and income saved from the development of new
renewable technologies and from the re-emergence of strong local economies;
� a vast improvement in our health takes place with clean air in our cities;
� greater world security is achieved as tensions over the control of oil in
the Middle East and elsewhere are diminished;
� the planet�s rainforests, the lungs of the world and home to 50-80 percent
of animal and plant species, are saved from destruction;
� greater food security and better health is attained with ecologically
sustainable methods of agriculture.
Whilst avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, our entire quality of
life will also improve. The benefits of such action are clearly huge and the
costs low when compared to the massive costs of inaction which climatic
destabilisation would inevitably inflict.
It is for these reasons that we call upon our political and corporate
leaders to face their responsibilities and take immediate action to protect
We urge members of the public and all non-governmental organisations to
organise grass-roots movements to exert pressure on our governments to
ensure they achieve this goal.
Too much time has already been wasted and it is running out fast. We cannot
wait until major climate catastrophes strike the developed world and wake us
from our slumber - by then it will be too late. We need political action
now. A crash programme is therefore an imperative. We have no alternative.
PLEASE SIGN HERE:
The arguments made in this statement are substantiated in the March 1999
special issue of The Ecologist on climate change.
School of Environmental Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ UK
office tel +44 1603 593 733 fax +44 1603 507 719
home tel +44 1603 611 635
CO2, oceans, algae, climate