By Anders Lorenzen, in Lisbon
Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief famous for brokering the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement who now heads up the Global Optimism organisation, is still very much involved in climate change advocacy.
Earlier this month she addressed the audience of the Web Summit in Lisbon, one of the world’s largest tech conferences, with a clear message for the fossil fuel industry, unequivocally telling them it was time to ‘retire’. Her view is that whilst we should be thankful for what the industry accomplished before we knew the reality of climate change, it’s now time for them to step aside and let renewables take over.
She made the point that the industry has failed to bring prosperity the reason that so many communities in Africa and other emerging economies do not have access to electricity is the extreme expense of fossil fuel infrastructure, which in return blocks their ability to develop and move out of poverty. She explained that renewables offer more options for vulnerable communities as the simple action of putting a solar panel up could make a big difference without needing the wider infrastructure of fossil fuels.
Figueres also had a message for US citizens saying that they have to think really carefully about how they vote in next years election. She also said it was time for the world to stop obsessing about the US leaving the Paris Climate Agreement as 60% of the US economy is in the process of decarbonising by regardless. She offered some hope to people worried about Donald Trump saying “Trump is not going to stay forever in the White House”.
Figueres stressed that we all have a role to play in tackling climate change and in the next year, companies, governments and individuals must halve their carbon footprint before 2030 if we are to tackle climate change.