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Carlos Nobre: 2015 is Crucial for the Future

Nobel Laureate Carlos Nobre is one of Brazil’s top climate scientists and member of the Brazilian Academy of Science. He is a founding member of WRI Brasil and served until recently on its Board of Directors. Between 2011 – 2015, he served as Secretary for Science Policy and Planning in the Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation in Brasilia. In May 2015, he is assuming the Presidency of CAPES, a foundation responsible for coordinating training of higher education personnel, under Brazil's Ministry of Education (MEC), but has received special permission to consult part-time for WRI Brasil. In this post, he explains the Earth League's "Earth Declaration."

Climate change poses a serious threat to sustainable development and poverty reduction. Maintaining the current trajectory of global warming will leave our world irrevocably changed, with warming far beyond 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and potentially devastating impacts on the planet. If we act quickly and courageously, we can immediately start to decarbonize the global economy and limit climate change.

To do this, however, political leaders from around the world must act resolutely this year to guarantee a better future for coming generations and for all other species. It is for these reasons that we from the Earth League – an international network of leading global scientists – are launching the “Earth Declaration,” a manifesto of eight essential elements of actions needed at the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. They are:

  1. Limit global warming to below 2 degrees C, maintaining this as the maximum limit for global warming to avoid the risk of potentially dangerous climate change.

  2. The maximum carbon emissions produced by human society on a global scale – in other words, the limit of future carbon dioxide emissions – must remain below 1 trillion tons (1000 gigatons of carbon dioxide) to provide us with a reasonable chance to hold the 2 degree C line.

  3. Intensive decarbonization actions, starting immediately, to secure a zero-carbon society by mid-century or a little later is key to future prosperity.

  4. Every country must develop plans for the decarbonization of its economy. Wealthy countries and modern industries can and must assume responsibility for decarbonization long before mid-century.

  5. We must unleash a wave of climatic innovations for the global good and allow universal access to existing technological solutions.

  6. Climate change is already happening. We need to massively increase public support for adaptation strategies and measures for the reduction of losses and damages in developing countries.

  7. We must protect carbon sinks and vital ecosystems, our best friends in the fight against climate change.

  8. Governments must provide additional support for developing countries to deal with climate change at a level that is at least comparable to current global development aid.

Brazil has stood out globally with a 36 percent reduction in emissions in the last few years, cutting its gross emissions of 2.36 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005 to 1.52 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012, according to estimates by the Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation. This is mainly due to the reduction of around 80 percent of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and, on a smaller scale, the reduction of deforestation of the Cerrado biome.

Brazil’s Low-Carbon Agriculture Plan provides paths for sustainability within Brazilian agriculture, moving to reduce emissions, decrease pressure on ecosystems, and increase productivity, an effective formula based on strong foundations of knowledge, technologies and innovation in the field and which could lead towards zero deforestation.

In the energy sector, decarbonization requires transformation to increased energy efficiency and the greater use of renewable power – notably wind and solar – among Brazil’s energy sources. China and India also have plans to greatly increase these sources of renewable energy in the next 10 years, and Brazil should follow their example.

Brazil, an environmental powerhouse, must support and defend an agreement at the Paris climate conference that is ambitious, equitable and scientifically based, to limit global warming to 2 degrees C.

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