Two Degrees: CNN Climate Change Debate

9 December 2015 – CNN

HALA GORANI (HOST): According to Pope Francis, we are living at a critical moment in history. For the American President, Barack Obama, there is no challenge that poses a greater threat to our future than climate change and with politicians from around the world coming together for the COP21 Summit in Paris. We will learn if there is enough collective will power to do something about it. It will take a global effort and an effort from each individual. Throughout the show we’ll discuss how we as consumers can potentially stop the average temperature of our planet from rising to that crucial two degree figure, but first I want to chat about the biggest threats that we’re currently facing with our panel. I want to start with you Kevin Rudd. What do you say to somebody who is concerned about climate change but says this is far into the future, it’s not impacting me now, we have time?

KEVIN RUDD: Well if you look at the data – and this is all based on the science – the last ten years we’ve seen nine of ten hottest years on record as a global average. So it is happening now. Second thing, is that you’re starting to see more extreme weather events now, not in the far distant future. And thirdly, the big driver to climate change is carbon emissions, and carbon emissions don’t actually just bring about climate change and the long-term difficulties that your presentation just demonstrated – carbon emissions now are impacting fundamentally on peoples’ public health today. I’ve just come from Kuala Lumpur this morning. Look at the impact of haze across Malaysia and Singapore – carbon based, hurting peoples’ health now and hurting the climate and, therefore, the planet in the longer term. It’s not just off in the by-and-by, it is real, it is immediate and requires political and personal action now.

GORANI: And these extreme weather situations, Father Augusto, they’re causing issues like mass migration, they’re increasing poverty in some parts of the developing world. So again, this is something that affects humanity now, do you agree with that?

FATHER AUGUSTO ZAMPINI DAVIES: Absolutely, this is what Pope Francis is saying – that the cry of the land, of the Earth, is inextricably connected to the cry of the poor. You cannot separate it. Beyond what science is saying is happening now, we in the Catholic Church, in agencies across the world – we are witnessing the consequences of climate change, particularly in the very poor. We have, on the one hand, what say science says. On the other hand, we are witnessing it. A drought in California was a problem last year but it was not the end of the world. That same drought, in Africa, means that thousands of people are starving or they have to migrate. In the UK, this morning I had two conversations with MPs. We were discussing migration because it is one of the biggest concerns. I said, “listen, if you’re concerned about migration now, wait and see what is going on, because people will have to migrate due to climate conditions that are already happening now.” This is happening now.

GORANI: We’re seeing migration from Africa. We’re seeing migration from conflict zones where conflict is more of an issue the more drought, the more difficult it is to harvest the land. We’re seeing these patterns emerging already. You advise businesses, you’re in touch with governments as well. Do they have a sense of urgency or not?

SANDRINE DIXSON-DECLÉVE: Well I think first we have to separate, which businesses and which governments. If we’re here in the European Union, yes absolutely, obviously the European Union has continued to show leadership in the area of climate change and also in the area of decarbonisation. I think that what’s fundamental is that now that has caught on. Some of what Kevin Rudd has indicated, around pollution for example – the negatives in the Asian region and particularly in China. I mean, one of the key reasons the Chinese are now pulling out of coal is also because of continued pollution, continued health effects et cetera. Each government is reacting slightly differently but, from a European perspective, there has been a real moral imperative across a variety of different parties to continue first of all to believe in the science and to do something. On the business side, again, the food manufacturers are already seeing the effect because of the droughts, because of the lack of access to water and, therefore, from an agricultural perspective they are starting to react, but the energy producers are as well.