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The Forgotten Climate Crisis?

Despite widespread worries about global warming, more immediate economic concerns – amplified by the ongoing war in Ukraine – risk pushing climate policy down the political agenda. But, as the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear, the world has no time to lose in its race to reach carbon neutrality.

In this Big Picture, Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, argues that redressing the shortcomings of last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow will require major emitters to deliver on critical “climate justice” issues like financing for vulnerable countries. And Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand, Dan Smith of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and Margot Wallström, a former European commissioner for the environment, hope that the West’s rejection of Russian fossil fuels in response to the invasion of Ukraine will accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

But Jean Pisani-Ferry warns that short-term economic pressures – exacerbated by the war’s inflationary impact on energy and food prices – may cause Europe’s climate agenda to unravel.

Even if the green transition remains on track, it may need to take on a different hue. Laura Chinchilla, a former president of Costa Rica, and María Fernanda Espinosa, a former president of the UN General Assembly, highlight the importance of women’s leadership, arguing that a carbon-neutral world is possible only with gender equity in climate policymaking. Finally, May Boeve of 350.org, Mitzi Jonelle Tan of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, and Nisha Agarwal of the International Refugee Assistance Project note that human migration is already a key consequence of the broader climate crisis – and could be a vital part of the solution.

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