The St. James’s Palace Memorandum on Action for a Low Carbon and Equitable Future

May 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Climate change, Climate change communication | 2 Comments
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St. James's Palace Clock Tower between turrets of Tudor Gatehouse 03 June 2009

St. James's Palace Clock Tower between turrets of Tudor Gatehouse 03 June 2009


The three-day Nobel Laureate Symposium at St. James’s Palace, London concluded today, Thursday 28 May 2009, with a fierce, urgent call for

“a global deal on climate change that matches the scale and urgency of the human, ecological and economic crises facing the world today.”

You can read the full text of The St. James’s Palace Memorandum English Version and The St. James’ Palace Memorandum German Version under the Conclusions section of the St. James’ Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium website.

The Symposium garnered front page coverage in today’s Times Online in the Environment section under the heading Global warming must stay below 2˙C or world faces ruin, scientists declare.  (The pre-symposium press release gives more background on the hosting parties and intent.)

Also see tomorrow’s article, titled Climate change: what does St James memo mean?

The emphasis is underscored literally: almost every time the word ‘now’ appears in the memorandum text, it is underlined.  The other word that gets that emphatic treatment is ‘all’.  Here are a few examples to reinforce the point:

The St James’s Palace Memorandum calls for a global deal on climate change that matches the scale and urgency of the human, ecological and economic crises facing the world today. It urges governments at all levels, as well as the scientific community, to join with business and civil society to seize hold of this historic opportunity to transform our carbon-intensive economies into sustainable and equitable systems. We must recognize the fierce urgency of now.

In a time of financial and economic crisis, the participants of the St. James’s Palace Symposium emphasise that without directing current economic recovery resources wisely, and embarking on a path towards a low carbon economy, the world will have lost the opportunity to meet the global sustainability challenge. Decarbonising our economy offers a multitude of benefits, from addressing energy security to stimulating unprecedented technological innovation. A zero carbon economy is an ultimate necessity and must be seriously explored now.

A long-term commitment under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is now urgently required. The global agreement in Copenhagen must include the following elements:

Delivering a low carbon energy infrastructure
Decarbonising our society requires an increase in energy conservation and efficiency, and a revolution in our energy infrastructure now. The required technological innovations will not be achieved without an unprecedented partnership between government and business.

An emergency package is needed now to provide substantial funding to tropical forest nations to help them halt deforestation and embark on alternative economic development paths, including:

well, that one was preceded by emergency, so hardly requires an underscore, so can be excused ;-)

Now, in terms of inclusivity, look at the number of times ‘all’ is used in the penultimate paragraph:

The Contribution of Science
The solutions to the extraordinary environmental, economic and human crises of this century will not be found in the political arena alone. Stimulated by the manifesto of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, the first Pugwash gathering of 1957 united scientists of all political persuasions to discuss the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. Global climate change represents a threat of similar proportions, and should be addressed in a similar manner. There should be an acceleration and integration of global sustainability studies, to encourage the active involvement of all scientists in these matters, championing the process of robust scientific study. All scientists should be urged to contribute to raising levels of public knowledge on these threats to civilization and engage in a massive education effort to popularize the principles in this Memorandum.

We know what needs to be done. We cannot wait until it is too late.
We cannot wait until what we value most is lost.

This morning, by pure coincidence, I watched a TED Talk with one of my sons, in which Lord Martin Rees mentioned the influence off Russell and Einstein, and referred to the Pugwash gathering. Now, even my middle school son can relate in his own way to the significance of today’s memorandum in the context of pivotal moments for the world, when scientists of all political persuasions came together to discuss how to handle such a threat to civilization.  Here’s the clip from TED, via YouTube:

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