“We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many of the things we need to do during this decade,” he said.
When it comes to the environment few people have the same gravitas as Sir David Attenborough, the famed British naturalist and television broadcaster. When Sir David speaks, people, including world leaders, tend to listen.
And as well they might.
In a prerecorded video message to politicians gathered at the G7 summit, Attenborough, 95, had a lot to say as he pressed home the importance of urgent actions to save life as we know it on the planet.
“The natural world today is greatly diminished. That is undeniable. Our climate is warming fast. That is beyond doubt,” the British naturalist explained.
“But the question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilizing the entire planet,” he went on.
Time isn’t on our side as climate change is threatening to undermine both entire ecosystems and traditional ways of life around the planet, yet we still have the power and the means to tackle the greatest challenges, Attenborough stressed.
“We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many of the things we need to do during this decade,” he elucidated.
“Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one. We have the skills to address it in time, all we need is the global will to do so,” he added.
The leaders of G7 nations are likely to pledge themselves to reducing their carbon emissions significantly while providing financial support to less developed nations to protect their environments.
However, no concerted global action on the climate and environment will succeed without the full cooperation of China, which alone accounts for around 27% of global CO2 emissions, far exceeding the United States at second place with 11%.
“China’s CO2 emissions increased again by around 2% in 2019, based on recently released official economic data, and 65% of the annual growth in energy consumption came from fossil fuels,” three energy and environmental experts note.
“Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and still accounted for 57.7% of China’s energy use in 2019, the data shows. Coal plants, which burn approximately 54% of all coal used in the country, provide 52% of generating capacity and 66% of electricity output – down from a peak of 81% in 2007,” they add.
China is also a leading contributor to plastic pollution in the oceans and the planet’s largest market for the illegal worldwide wildlife trade.
In addition to climate change, nations and people around the world will also have to tackle a host of other challenges, including rampant deforestation, biodiversity loss and overfishing, to name just a few.
“Protecting our planet is the most important thing we as leaders can do for our people,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed at the G7 meeting.
Hopefully, that sentiment is more than a mere PR talking point and is widely shared by other world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.