SXSWORLD November 2014


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1 0 S X S W o r l d | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 | S X S W. C O M I am nature, I will go on. I am prepared to evolve. Are you?" So intones the voice of Julia Roberts as Mother Nature in one of the videos for Conservation International's new campaign, "Nature is Speaking." The spots featuring celebrities voicing natural elements' indifference to humanity's plight, debuted during SXSW Eco's 2014 keynote addresses and continued the momentum of the message delivered at September's UN Climate Summit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—that climate change is "the defining issue of our age." The largest gathering of world leaders—more than 100—at one place, the UN Summit also welcomed some 800 heads from the busi- ness and finance sectors, as well as civil society. The purpose was to raise political impetus, galvanize action and announce each faction's pledge to advance climate action on five fronts: cutting emissions, mobilizing money and markets, pricing carbon, strengthening resil- ience and mobilizing new coalitions. The talks focused on eight action areas, including agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, industry, resilience and transportation. "What I like about the Summit is that they brought on represen- tatives from many different sectors," says Joseph Lev y, research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, who spoke at SXSW Eco about his work understanding how climate shapes polar landscapes and ecosystems in Antarctica. "It's important that an international group recognize that we all have a stake in this." There was also a call to agree to an ambitious agreement to limit the world to a less than two-degree Celsius rise in global tempera- ture. The measures and the message are a precursor to the upcoming talks in Lima, Peru, this December, which will hopefully result in the passage of a global climate agreement at a meeting in Paris at the end of 2015. "There was a sense of euphoria," says Kalee Kreider, special climate science advisor for the United Nations Foundation, who attended the Summit and gave her follow-up assessment at a SXSW Eco panel titled "After the Climate Summit: The UN's Way Forward." She says the Summit and the accompanying 400,000-person strong People's Climate March "felt new. It was as if people had recuperated from the [2009] Copenhagen treaties that didn't go so well. With the march, I had never seen such a sea of people, with such a breadth and depth of commitment to this cause." Along with the discussions at the Summit were statements from organizations that included the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recently released its third working group report for its Fifth Assessment Report, followed at the end of October by its final synthesis report. The IPCC represents the world's scien- tific community. The Fifth Assessment Report provides an update of the latest scientific and technical data and impacts of climate change, as well as strategies to mitigate and adapt to the damage. So, how bad is it? In his statement to the Summit, IPCC's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, said, "If we take no action to stabilize the con- centration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, the average temperature by the end of this century will increase any where from 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius. Between 1970 and 2004, global green- house gas emissions increased by 70 percent and carbon dioxide by 80 percent." He went on to outline the coming floods, droughts, cyclones, heat waves, decrease in water resources, elimination of the Greenland ice sheet, animal extinctions, scarcity of food and other results that will come from inaction. "There is gloom and doom, but there is also a feeling of commit- ment to change," said Andrew Freedman, climate science reporter for Mashable, who was on the SXSW Eco "After the UN Summit" panel with Kreider. "The divestment movement is gathering steam, and the Summit indicated that companies are committed to changing their ways not only because it's the right thing to do, but because they know regulation is coming and consumer sentiment is changing." According to Cassie Flynn, climate change advisor at the United Nations Development Programme and founder of the website cli- "France pledged $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the newest and potentially largest fund under the UNFCCC," she says. "EU countries expressed support for the EU emission targets that are expected to be adopted later this year. Numerous developed and developing countries described their national efforts on climate change and committed to new initiatives. UN Summit Puts Global Focus on Climate Change by IngrId Spencer " A b u rie d re m n a n t of t h e Ros s S e a I ce S h e e t in A n ta rc t ica — a g la ci a l d e p os i t fro m t h e la s t ice a g e i s ra p i d ly m elt in g a way . J I M O ' C O N N O R

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