Former US Secretary of State with Obama’s Administration John Kerry is behind a newly formed bipartisan coalition of world leaders and celebrities to combat climate change through public action, reports The New York Times.
With the name World War Zero, their mission is ‘making the world respond to the climate crisis the same way we mobilized to win World War II’. The movement wants to achieve net zero carbon emissions while creating millions of clean energy jobs in the process. The group was launched last Sunday, just ahead of UN COP25 Climate Change Conference taking place in Madrid Dec 2-13 to move forward the 2015 Paris Agreement, from which President Trump will withdraw next year.
Enlisted members include former US democrat Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, but also moderate republican politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, and John Kasich, former governor of Ohio. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher are also part of the effort.
The objective is to hold ‘climate conversations’ in towns across the US throughout 2020 with citizens from all walks of life and political views, trying to reach millions of people. With a budget of $500,000, coalition members will head to states which are crucial to the 2020 US election, as well as military bases and depressed areas where climate change discussions are not common.
Just last week the UN released its Emissions Gap Report 2019, warning that the goal of reducing emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5 oC is on the brink of becoming impossible. Based on today’s commitments, emissions will be over twice what they should be. The net carbon emissions of the two top polluters, China and the US, are increasing.
When asked about the new bipartisan coalition, Sarah Matthews, a spokesperson for Trump’s re-election campaign, criticised attempts to force the US to lower emissions, saying ‘the largest emitters like China and India won’t do the same’, according to the New York Times. But Mr. Schwarzenegger rejected the argument: ‘I always say to myself, what is happening here? America never ever in its history has said, ”Let some other country do something first.” We should lead’. His view is that the environmental community should improve their communications and talk about pollution instead of climate change, because pollution is a threat right now, he told NBC News.
The new coalition will not promote any particular policy approach, and members hold positions that may differ widely, for instance concerning the use of natural gas as a transition fuel from coal. Katie Eder, founder of the Future Coalition, a network of over 25 youth-led activist organizations focused on social change, and a member of Mr. Kerry’s coalition, said: ‘While I may be disagreeing with some of the things that other folks involved in World War Zero believe, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together,’ and she stressed ‘collaboration is our key to survival’.