Billions Committed for Environment at Clinton Global Initiative
NEW YORK, New York, September 26, 2007 (ENS) - Today in New York, the opening day of the third annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, CGI, brought together some 1,000 leaders of business, government and nongovernmental organizations from over 70 countries, including 52 current and former heads of state, who made commitments focusing on the Initiative's four focus areas: education, energy and climate change, global health and poverty alleviation.
Former President Bill Clinton established the CGI on the premise that the world is faced with complex problems that government either is not solving or that government alone cannot solve. People attend the meetings, learn more about a given issue, and then decide to take action.
Former President Bill Clinton opens the third annual Clinton Global Initiative (Photo courtesy CGI)
Clinton welcomed his guests by telling them that since the first CGI meeting, "More than 600 commitments have been made by hundreds and hundreds of participants in these CGI sessions, impacting tens of millions of lives and more than 100 countries. Among the things which have come out of the commitments made and kept: 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided, more than 850,000 children under the age of five have received life saving health services, three million more micro-entrepreneurs have accessed the capital."
To start the ball rolling, Clinton announced a commitment worth two million dollars by a group of financial services corporations to provide essential humanitarian aid by air lift to Chad and Darfur to directly reach those affected by the ongoing conflict. The first four flights will be completed by the end of 2007, the second four by April.
Clinton also highlighted the commitment of Florida Power and Light to build new solar electricity plants in Florida, to provide customers with information on reducing their carbon imprint, and to giv them a way to do it. The commitment is worth $2.4 billion for 2012. The company will build 500 megawatts of new solar energy generating capacity, with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions of more than two million tons over five years.
Clinton invited Al Gore, his former vice president, to speak about climate change, and Gore said the world is already at a crisis point.
"There should be no mistake that this crisis, the climate crisis, is not going to be solved only by personal action and business action. We need changes in laws, we need changes in policies, we need leadership, and we need a new treaty, we need a mandate at Bali, during the first 14 days of December this year, to complete a treaty, not by 2012, but by 2009, and put it completely into force by 2010. We can do it and we must do it," Gore said.
From left: Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan; Bishop emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa; former Vice President Al Gore (Photo courtesy CGI)
"Now two things happened last week that were particularly important," said Gore. "Number one, five days ago, at the time of the equinox when the warm half of the year in the northern hemisphere ended, there was the official measurement of the maximum extent to which the ice of the north polar ice cap had melted. It not only set an all time record low, it was 22 percent below the previous record, an extra one million square miles melted, there are only 1.6 million square miles left."
"What it means is that the entire north polar ice cap could be completely gone in less than 23 years. And if it goes, it won't come back in millions of years," Gore warned.
"What this means, ladies and gentlemen, and particularly, all these heads of state and business leaders here, we face a genuine planetary emergency, we cannot just talk about it, we have to act on it, and we have to solve it urgently."
The other important event last week was that the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of a success story - the Montreal Protocol, ratified when Ronald Reagan was president, which has been effective in reducing the emission of ozone-destroying chemicals.
Gore said, "I would like to call on President [George W.] Bush to follow President Reagan's example, and listen to those among his advisors who know that we have to have binding reductions in CO2, we have to put a price on carbon, and the United States of America has to lead the world to solve the climate crisis.
Gore said the effort to solve the climate crisis is actually the key to giving humanity the ability to successfully address these other crises, whether its religious strife, or the effort against global poverty, or HIV AIDS, or any of the others.
"When people from different points of view with different experiences have a shared goal that is urgent, that's connected to their survival, they find the ability to put their differences aside and work together. We've seen it time and time again, sometimes in war, sometimes in peace. This is an emergency."
By the end of the first day, over 40 commitments in education, global health, energy and climate change and poverty alleviation had been announced.
Actor Brad Pitt is expanding his commitment to New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward with his Make it Right project to create a community of 150 affordable and sustainable homes in one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Pitt and his partner Steve Bing are challenging members of the Clinton Global Initiative to join them in rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward by each pledging to match $5 million in contributions to the Make it Right project, for a total of $10 million.
"The heart and soul of New Orleans, specifically the people of the Lower 9th Ward, are paramount to this project," said Pitt. "The words of one elderly man who is determined to return to New Orleans led to the name of our organization: he asked us, directly simply and profoundly, to help make it right. So that's what we're doing. We're going to help to make it right with 150 sustainable, affordable houses - houses that stand out for their design both aesthetically and structurally, so that these people can live in beautiful safe structures that respect their spirit and provide a good quality of life."
Many other donors targeted environmental problems with their contributions.
By motivating the international community to match Ecuador's commitment to leave nearly one billion barrels of oil in the ground, this commitment helps preserve one of the world's natural treasures and prevent 436 million tons of carbon emissions.
In addition to announcing major commitments that have the potential to impact millions of lives globally, Clinton announced that CGI has established MyCommitment.org, an interactive website that allows members of the public to make individual commitments.
MTV and the Clinton Global Initiative will host a roundtable discussion on the state of affairs of youth activism later this month in New York City, bringing together a panel of that will include President Clinton, Bono, Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, Shakira, and Christina Norman, president of MTV. As part of the special event, "CGI and MTV present: Giving – Live at the Apollo," each individual will discuss their efforts to influence change on pressing social issues and invite young people to partner with them on a new initiative – designed to improve communities nationwide and make a difference in the lives of people living in the poorest places on the planet.
The conversation will take place on September 29th at Harlem's historic Apollo Theatre and be moderated by MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway. "Giving – Live at the Apollo" will also showcase live performances from Alicia Keys and Shakira. The discussion and concert will be webcast live on Think.MTV.com, ONE.org and keepachildalive.org, with a special on the day’s events to be later broadcast on MTV, mtvU and MTV Tr3s.
The Clinton Global Initiative is a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation that brings together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.
CGI has approximately 1,000 members, diverse and influential leaders from all over the world, who make tangible commitments to create or support projects within CGI's areas of focus.
During the three day annual conferences, attendees are required to make specific commitments to address one of the Initiative's four main topics and report back to President Clinton on the progress made throughout the year. Attendees who do not make or keep their commitments are not invited to attend future meetings.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.
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