WE WANT ZERO
December 2015: the world’s governments will go to a United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris. This meeting is probably the last chance they have to agree a plan that has any chance of saving the future from climate disaster. That may sound apocalyptic but unfortunately it is also true.
At Paris the governments will discuss a load of abstract, geeky sounding issues. Many of these issues matter hugely for the future of humanity – but it is hard to keep up with the detail.
But there is one simple thing that we know we need the world’s government’s to agree on at Paris: the goal of completely phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. That is an ambitious target. It means totally weaning ourselves off all fossil fuels and rapidly moving to a world that is totally run on clean renewable energy. But it is possible. And it is what the scientists tell us is necessary.
Over the next few months young people around the world will be painting on The Future’s Eye symbol and going to talk to politicians about how much they want them to agree on a zero goal at Paris. The Eye will tell the politicians that we are watching them to see if they are going to make the right decision about our future. And it also represents our demand – for a future of zero greenhouse gas emissions (we chose the circle as our symbol because it is also a zero).
Here is a letter that we have written to the politicians to explain what we want them to do at Paris. Please read it. Then copy it, edit it if you want, then paint on the Eye and go and deliver it to the politicians that are answerable to you.
Because we want zero.
Dear Governments of the World
You may have seen me wearing a large circle painted around my right eye. You may have seen other young people wearing one too.
I am writing this to explain why.
If my generation is going to have a future that we can survive we need to keep climate change under control. We know this. You know this.
Keeping climate change under control means avoiding a rise in global average temperatures of above 2 or 1.5 degrees. Because beyond that millions will suffer and human societies and economies may not survive.
The world’s top scientists tell us that if we want a 85% chance of staying below a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celcius and a 50% chance of keeping under 1.5 degrees we need to get greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of this century.
This means we need to achieve a future of net zero emissions fast. A future free of fossil fuels. A vast shift to an energy system based on renewable energy.
I like the sound of that future. I think my friends and I have a good chance of surviving and thriving in it.
And as a political goal I like the sound of a total phase out of fossil fuels. A total shift to the clean energy sources that can create abundant opportunities for the economies of the world without threatening our future. I think this is a goal that my generation – and the world’s businesses and financial markets – will understand and get excited about.
So the most important thing you can do for my generation at the Paris climate negotiations is make sure that the world agrees to stay below 2 degrees of warming by achieving a total phase out of fossil fuels by the middle of this century. I don’t really care about the precise language of carbon neutrality or decarbonisation or zero emissions. But the goal must be zero. A zero that means no more greenhouse gas emissions. No more burning fossil fuels. 100 percent renewable energy. By the middle of this century.
I am wearing a circle around my eye to tell you that I am watching you. That I want you to deliver a zero for me at Paris. The most exciting zero imaginable. The zero that means that humanity can survive into its future.
Like the zero that I am wearing around my right eye.