The UN Climate Change Conference COP25 taking place from 2 to 13 December has been sending grim news about climate change, warning the world that the next 12 months will be a crucial time for international climate action. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and 2014 Tang Prize laureate in Sustainable Development, gave us her immediate response to this summit and applauded the youth for being “woke” and being active.
COP25 is intended to support the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries in 2015, with the aim of curbing global greenhouse gas emissions. This goal, unfortunately, has yet been achieved. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) pointed out that so far the proposals put forward by different governments to cut carbon emissions are not ambitious enough to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To meet that target, every country has to be prepared to cap their carbon emissions 5 times more than originally planned.
Worried that “things are not going so well,” Dr. Brundtland however believes that “we have reason to be supportive and hopeful about the meeting now going on in Madrid.”
In addition, Dr. Brundtland is the current member and former deputy chair of The Elders, an independent group of renowned world leaders working together for critical issues such as climate change and human rights. In their latest press release, it is stressed that “following the formal US notification of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, all other signatories must now use the upcoming COP25 summit in Madrid to urgently step up their climate action and ambition. Countries must cut carbon emissions more drastically and quickly than in previously-submitted pledges, and also adopt rigorous monitoring of compliance with such commitments.”
When watching a debate on a Norwegian TV channel, she noticed many young leaders have come up with some practical measures to combat climate change, such as to stop any new investment on the continental shelf. Commending the younger generation for stepping up “more than ever before,” she didn’t forget to remind us that though she is now one of “the elderly” she is still very active when it comes to discussions about sustainable development and climate change.
Known as the “Godmother of Sustainable Development,” Dr. Brundtland is an outstanding global leader. For the past 30 years, she has been paying close attention to our environment and working tirelessly to improve the sustainability of human society. In 1987, the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), chaired by Dr. Brundtland, published the report, “Our Common Future,” defining sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This landmark report has since contributed to the birth of many international treaties and regulatory guidelines.
The first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development was awarded to Dr. Brundtland for her innovation, leadership, and implementation of sustainable development that laid out the scientific and technical challenges for the global community to achieve a better balance of economic development, environmental integrity and social equality for the benefit of all humanity.