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April 22, 2022: A special day to celebrate the Earth



There are many days to celebrate various topics and diverse scope: women's rights day, peace day, hugs day or many others. On the day, we focus on a theme, we talk about the origin, the ins and outs and then we move on. Why is this year's 52nd International Mother Earth Day special, if not essential? Because the current situation is unprecedented for many reasons.



YESTERDAY AND TODAY


Although Earth Day was launched in 1970 in the United States, it was not until the 1990s that it became a worldwide event. Initially born out of the American civil rights movement, and dedicated demonstrations in which 28 million Americans marched for a healthy and sustainable environment, this day is celebrated with increasing intensity, commitment and around themes specific to each year.


The increasing threats to our unique planet and the resulting fears for life on earth led to the choice of the theme of eco-anxiety for this year 2022.


Eco-anxiety, already called 'the new disease of the century', is characterized by anxiety, depressive episodes in the face of the signs of climate disruption that are multiplying: mega-fires, floods, storms, heat waves, and their consequences. This evil affects mainly children, teenagers and young people in general with the difficulty, not to say the fear, of projecting themselves into the future.


Today, the observation is without appeal: we must act without delay, it is indeed a vital emergency. We are witnessing a growing awareness on all sides and the latest IPCC report invites us to take action in the next 3 years. Fortunately, proposals and projects are well on the way to being accomplished.



A GROWING AWARENESS


It is the awareness that our life on Earth is fragile and threatened in large part because of our lifestyles plundering and squandering natural resources (which are in limited quantity) and living without sobriety by favoring finance, the market economy and frenzied consumption.


Among the first actors of an enlightened ecology and of a more lively awareness of the beauty and fragility of life on Earth were the astronauts who testified to this every time they discovered the blue planet from space. They are still the best ambassadors and defenders of the planet.


But over the years, it is the youth who have mobilized for the protection of the planet and its environment. In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio, Severn Suzuki, representing the Children's Environmental Defense Organization, made a vibrant appeal: "We must show our children that there are solutions, that we can solve the climate crisis and save them. The same Severn Suzuki renewed her call 20 years later at the think tank 'Les Ateliers de la Terre', pregnant with her first child and noting that unfortunately things had not progressed much.


Another young icon of environmental protection stood up to the world's governments and led with passion and commitment young people to take to the streets en masse and to file legal actions against climate inaction; this is of course Greta Thunberg.


But there are also leaders who are personally or politically committed to environmental protection and who sounded the alarm decades ago. The emblematic example is that of Mickaïl Gorbatchev who founded the Green Cross International in 1993 following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 with the aim of promoting sustainable development in developed or developing countries by means of projects mainly concerning environmental protection or peace promotion. Green Cross France et Territoires follows in the footsteps of the illustrious founder of the NGO, under the presidency of Jean-Michel Cousteau / See : gcft.fr


One of the other presidents who illustrated the political commitment in favor of the environment and for an urgent climate action is Jacques Chirac. We remember the sentence pronounced at the opening of his speech at the 4th Earth Summit in 2002 in Johannesburg: "Our house is burning and we are looking elsewhere". Twenty years later, it seems that this is almost always the case despite a growing awareness.


More recently, on March 21, 2022, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, gave a powerful speech beginning with: "We are walking with our eyes closed towards climate catastrophe".


However, it is encouraging to note that the citizens' expression is becoming more and more present, pressing and committed. On the occasion of and in advance of the COP 21 held in Paris, a global citizen debate co-initiated by the United Nations was held on June 6, 2015. In Senegal, China, via Madagascar, Brazil or Japan, nearly 100 debates were held in 76 countries with 10,000 citizens around the essential themes of energy and climate in representative groups reflecting the socio-demographic structure of each country and region (including the poorest and most vulnerable). For the first time, the citizens of the world who live the consequences of climate change on a daily basis were able to express their concerns, hopes and aspirations to the COP21 negotiators. Below, discover the desiderata and proposals of the citizens.



CHAPTER 1: A STRONG CALL TO ACTION


- Citizens around the world want their leaders to commit to ambitious climate action.

- Citizens want zero net (greenhouse gas) emissions by the end of the century.

- The COP21 Paris Agreement must provide a credible pathway to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees.

- Climate change is an opportunity to improve quality of life

- Introduce carbon taxes and invest in renewable energy


CHAPTER 2: COMMON BUT DIFFERENTIATED RESPONSIBILITIES AND RESPECTIVE CAPACITIES


- A narrowing "North-South" gap

- Countries must assume their responsibilities according to their respective capacities and emission levels.

- All countries must take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.


CHAPTER 3: FINANCING CLIMATE ACTION


- The private sector must make a significant contribution to climate finance

- High-income countries must increase their commitments to climate finance.


CHAPTER 4: CITIZEN PARTICIPATION


- Citizens want to be actively involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

- Citizens expect to participate in climate policy decision-making


In the same vein, a citizen debate on space for Europe organized by the European Space Agency took place in 2016 in its 22 member states. It demonstrated and confirmed that what concerned European citizens most and mattered to them in the future was the protection of the environment, the fight against pollution on Earth as well as in space, climate change, building a conscience for humanity, protecting common goods, promoting peace and unity; and that the programs, tools and data of space activities were the essential supports of this. Identical questions were asked of French schoolchildren at the end of 2021, and their answers were very similar to those of European citizens in 2016, if not more so.



AN INDISPUTABLE FINDING BY THE IPCC

...with mobilization required in the next 3 years


The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), a true UN institution, is trying to determine concrete actions to combat climate change. To do so, experts follow and share the evolution of environmental impacts in reports published since 1990. Published in August 2021, the 1st part of the IPCC report shows the alarming acceleration of global warming. Part 2, published in February 2022, lists the devastating effects of global warming on people and biodiversity in the past, present and future. The IPCC also states that delaying the implementation of the first actions reduces the chances of a livable future. The peak of greenhouse gas emissions cannot go beyond 2025, without a decrease in the following years, the consequences of global warming will be disastrous. Almost half of humanity is considered vulnerable because of the climate. Global warming is the cause of the extinction of certain species, of the increase of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, but also of poor harvests.


The third part of the IPCC's sixth report provides technical, social and technological solutions to reduce CO2 emissions, based on four key proposals:


- Opt for energy sobriety

- Replace fossil fuels with renewable energies

- Increase financing

- Capture carbon emission


For more details: Greenly.org / Bonpote.com


PROPOSALS AND PROJECTS


Among the proposals of the last few years aiming at strengthening and renewing Environmental Law, here are two Declarations with a strong legal scope:


- The Declaration of the Rights of Humanity (DDHu)


Designed for the preparation of the COP21, this Declaration recognizes the rights and duties of humanity towards itself, future generations, other species and nature. This text aims to establish rights and duties, no longer individual, but collective. Creating interdependence between living species, ensuring their right to exist and the right of humanity to live in a healthy and ecologically sustainable environment are the main thrusts of this Declaration founded by Corinne Lepage / See: ddhu.org


- A Declaration for Stockholm+50


Proposed by the Portuguese Association Common Home of Humanity, which will be presented in Stockholm in June 2022 at the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1st United Nations Conference on the Environment, this Declaration includes 4 proposals:


- Implement the right to a healthy environment. Member States must implement resolution 48/13 of the UNHRC (Human Rights Council) recognizing this right, which emphasizes acting on intra- and intergenerational equity


- Recognize, restore and safeguard the global commons. Establish global environmental governance of the natural system that sustains life on the planet with a stable climate, legally recognize it as the common heritage of humanity and manage it as such.


- Establish a regenerative economy. A prosperous future requires an economy in which the natural processes that sustain all life on Earth and maintain a stable climate become economically visible.


- Prioritize governance and institutional solutions. Long-term governance of the global commons with associated risk management requires a permanent system to reliably manage interactions with the Earth system as a whole / See: Commonhomeofhumanity.org


Finally, more and more, we see the emergence of national climate laws (France, Portugal...) on the fringe of the European climate law (green pact) and a desire to organize citizens' conventions for the climate on the French model adapted to the particularities of the countries concerned.


HOPES


Recently (March 2022) one of our great thinkers, Edgar Morin, a centenarian alert, published a small book dazzling with intelligence and simplicity, clear and full of hope. In it, he recalls our history, our values, our contradictions, our mistakes and errors, and above all he proposes a program for the future to be built. "Let's wake up", it says it all!


Finally, I would like to remind you that our common project, the HOPES book, takes up the issues that we need to understand and evaluate, the major challenges that we have to face, and the threats that we all face. It proposes projections and solutions because another world is still possible. Personalities from all over the world have contributed to the diagnosis of the present world and of the planet Earth that we celebrate today with humility and humanity and perhaps also with individual and collective guilt. This diagnosis is accompanied by solutions that it is not too late to implement. What are we waiting for?


Because hope remains.






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