Sir David Attenborough says ‘the time for pure national interests has passed’ and rich nations must collaborate and co-operate to avoid the ‘apocalyptic’ consequences of climate change
- Sir David , 94, has issued a plea for humanity to focus on climate change
- He is calling for greater internationalism among the world’s wealthiest nations
- He believes the time is now for those who have taken from nature to ‘give back’
British TV legend and famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough, 94, has said the time has come for the world’s richest countries to put aside ‘national interest’ and tackle climate change with greater internationalism.
He has urged the world’s wealthiest countries to give back to the global effort after taking a lot from the natural world.
The veteran broadcaster said that if not, the ‘consequences could be apocalyptic’ after his generation ‘muffed it’ on the environment.
Speaking at the launch of his new film, A Life On Our Planet, Sir David called for humanity to use the shared hardship of the coronavirus pandemic as fuel for the ongoing fight on climate change.
Speaking at the launch of his new film, A Life On Our Planet, Sir David, called for humanity to use the shared hardship of the coronavirus pandemic as fuel for the ongoing fight on climate change
He said: ‘Covid-19 pandemic has caused, and will continue to cause, immense suffering.
‘If there is hope that can come out of it, then that may arise from the whole world having experienced a shared threat and found a sense that we are all in it together.
‘The same unique brains and communication skills that fuelled the development of our civilisations now have access to technologies and institutions that allow all nations of the world to collaborate and co-operate should we choose to do so.
‘The time for pure national interests has passed.
‘If we are to tackle climate change, enable sustainable development and restore biodiversity, then internationalism has to be our approach.
‘In doing so, we must bring about a greater equality between what nations take from the world and what they give back. The wealthier nations have taken a lot and the time has now come to give.’
He also echoed calls from scientists and said the world ‘is at a crucial moment’.
‘Humanity is at a crossroads and I think the natural world is really under serious, serious threat, and the consequences could be apocalyptic,’ he said.
Conservation charities WWF and RSPB have recently published reports exposing the dramatic impact humans have had on nature.
The WWF found wildlife populations around the world declined by more than two thirds in less than 50 years.
Prince Charles will warn that the climate crisis will ‘dwarf’ the impact of coronavirus and call for ‘swift and immediate action’ in tackling the matter.
In a recorded message from Birkhall in the grounds of Balmoral, the Prince of Wales, 71, will say that the Covid-19 pandemic is a ‘window of opportunity’ to reset the economy for a more ‘sustainable and inclusive’ future.
The prince’s comments come months after he urged nations to work together to tackle the environmental threat to the planet as he attended WaterAid charity’s Water and Climate event at Kings Place in London.
In his message, to be played at the virtual opening of Climate Week on Monday afternoon, the prince said: ‘Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to ‘reset’ for… a more sustainable and inclusive future.
‘In other words, the global pandemic is a wake-up call we cannot ignore…
‘…[the environmental] crisis has been with us for far too many years – decried, denigrated and denied.
‘It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’
From elephants in central Africa and leatherback turtles in Costa Rica to Arctic skuas in Orkney and grey partridges in the UK, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have fallen an average of 68 per cent globally since 1970, the WWF Living Planet Index (LPI) 2020 reveals.
Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, described the findings as ‘catastrophic’ and said these serious declines in wildlife species populations are ‘an indicator that nature is unravelling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure’.
RSPB slammed the British Government for its failure to reach conservation targets which, the charity claims, resulted in a ‘lost decade’ with many species close to extinction.
A landmark UN report published last week also found humanity is presiding over ‘unprecedented’ losses to nature and is not doing enough to prevent destruction of the world’s ecosystems.
The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), reveals the world has failed to meet a series of key targets set a decade ago to save the world’s biodiversity.
In 2010, a total of 20 ‘Aichi Targets’ were developed and hailed as the blueprint for saving life on Earth.
This latest report reveals that none of these were fully met, with only six being classed as ‘partially achieved’.
Professor Jane Memmott, who is president of the British Ecological Society and was not involved in the report, says: ‘The crisis in nature is such that we need to act now.
‘We are dependent on the natural world for our food, wellbeing and prosperity and the current rate of loss of species is seriously worrying.’
According to Sir David, the most important thing to do now is put ‘the right politicians into positions of power who will say something about saving the planet’.
Sir David also echoed calls from scientists and said the world ‘is at a crucial moment’. ‘Humanity is at a crossroads and I think the natural world is really under serious, serious threat, and the consequences could be apocalyptic,’ he said. Pictured, bleached coral reef caused by water that is too warm
Sir David (pictured) says the time has come for people to be vocal in their support of conservation, letting leaders know it is a public priority. He says it is of the utmost importance to demand our elected leaders do something to aid environmental pursuits, and, if necessary, ‘convince them that we are prepared to take an increase in tax’
His comments will likely echo strongest with Americans, whose president has decided to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement.
This seminal international agreement was signed by Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, as well as leaders from 194 other countries, and signalled intent to keep global warming below a 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Sir David says the time has come for people to be vocal in their support of conservation, letting leaders know it is a public priority.
He says it is of the utmost importance to demand our elected leaders do something to aid environmental pursuits, and, if necessary, ‘convince them that we are prepared to take an increase in tax’.
David Attenborough calls plastic pollution ‘unfolding catastrophe’
Plastic pollution and waste are killing people every 30 seconds in the developing world, Sir David Attenborough warns in a report out today.
Single-use plastics, shipped across the world by rich countries like Britain or sold by multinationals, may help to cause up to a million deaths a year.
This is according to a 2019 report backed by Sir David which says children playing around plastic waste are twice as likely to get intestinal bugs like cholera – the second biggest killer in under-fives.
Asked about young people taking up the issue, Sir David said of the environment: ‘I’ve had my chance and muffed it perhaps, my generation really has muffed it…
‘I think they have every right to make themselves heard.’
However, he alluded to current movements from extremists such as Extinction Rebellion, who have repeatedly performed high-profile stunts which have seen people be arrested.
These include blocking roads, super gluing themselves to the pavement outside parliament and disturbing the distribution of British newspapers.
‘To what degree you break the law is a different issue altogether,’ Sir David says.
‘I don’t believe that it’s sensible politics to break the law, because if you’re any good at all, some of your demands will be met and then you will be demanding that people abide the law and take notice of what they say – you can’t have it both ways.’
He said being wasteful ‘is the real demon, the real sin. We are astonishingly wasteful’.
Recalling his father-in-law being ‘appalled’ after seeing someone stubbing his cigarette out on a half-eaten steak, he said: ‘Waste is immoral – the wasting of power, the wasting of paper, the wasting of energy.
‘We shouldn’t waste space – we are wasting space that could be occupied by the natural world. It’s the waste that is the sin.’
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet premieres in cinemas on September 28, featuring an exclusive conversation with Sir David and Sir Michael Palin. The film will launch on Netflix on October 4.
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