Solar panels desert Lance Cheung/Flickr

A Climate Apollo Program

Until now, the diplomatic effort to prevent dangerous climate change has focused on coordinating national cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. But what is needed is more spending, not just more coordination.

LONDON – In 1961, when the United States was faced with the threat of falling behind the Soviet Union in the space race, President John F. Kennedy called for a program – eventually known as Project Apollo – to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. The program’s clearly articulated vision – and the resources and effort mustered in its service – ensured its success. Just eight years after Kennedy’s announcement, astronaut Neil Armstrong pressed his footprint into the lunar dust.

As representatives from 196 countries prepare to gather in Paris at the end of the year to craft an agreement to tackle global warming, it is becoming clear that we need a similar project. In early June, I joined David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government, former BP CEO John Browne, and several other co-authors in a call for a Global Apollo Program.

Until now, the diplomatic effort to prevent dangerous climate change has focused on coordinating national cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. But what is needed is more spending, not just more coordination.

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