In the feature 5 Questions with… we reach out to our high-profile supporters of the European Citizens Initiative StopGlobalWarming.eu - A price on carbon to fight climate change to find out more about their role in the fight against climate change, and what their reasons for supporting the StopGlobalWarming.eu campaign. This week, we present to you the answers from Mogens Lykketoft, former UN General Assembly President during the 2015 Paris Agreement talks.
Mogens Lykketoft, When did you first become aware of climate change as an issue?
I had the first impression of the fatal human impact on climate and sustainability back in the 1970s, when the Club of Rome wrote about limitations to growth.
The government in Denmark from 1993-2001, where I served first as Minister for Finance and later as Minister for Foreign Affairs, had a clear green profile. We introduced new green taxes and had a very active profile in fighting for the Kyoto Protocol.
My most important push for climate action was as President of the UN General Assembly in 2015 and onwards, when we adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and had the Paris Climate Agreement.
How do you foresee the state of the planet in 50 years time, if climate change is left unchecked?
It will be a catastrophe with rapid increase in deserts, melting away of glaciers that now supply one billion people with freshwater, and rising sea levels, destroying valuable farmlands. The result will be hundreds of millions forced to leave home - and as a consequence an increasing number of conflicts because of massive waves of unregulated migrants.
How important do you think individuals can be in generating the change we need to deal with this issue?
Change depends on individuals acting alone and collectively - as consumers and investors, as part of civil society and as citizens voting at local, national and European elections.
What, in your opinion, makes carbon pricing such a potentially important policy in the fight against climate change?
It is by far the most effective and cheapest way to change the pattern of behavior of both investors and consumers. But it has to be combined with change in general taxation towards less inequality and government support for the energy transition in the most affected industries.
If you wanted to convince an ordinary European citizen to support and sign the stopglobalwarming.eu European Citizens’ Initiative campaign, what benefits to their lives and to society as a whole would you highlight?
It is about our own children and grandchildren. If we do not act now, they will have a much more troublesome and dangerous life on this planet. It is therefore a moral obligation, and urgently needs intergenerational solidarity. We cannot afford NOT to act.
*5 questions to... is a format curated by Adam Oliver, Networking Officer of StopGlobalWarming.eu