Dear Mr. President,
The moment of truth for your climate legacy has arrived.
More than four years ago, you received an open letter from some of the nation’s top planetary protection leaders urging you and the president of China to publicly declare a global climate emergency by committing our respective nations to 80% carbon cuts by 2020.
Because that urgent call was not heeded, we have lost precious time in the race to save civilization and must now set our sights even higher. It is with a deepening sense of dread over the fate of humanity that we call on you today to use the powers of your presidency to champion a U.S. goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Innovating our way to zero emissions through an all-hands-on-deck societal mobilization at wartime speed is not only our best hope for averting climate catastrophe – it is key to revitalizing our economy and putting America back to work.
In three months, you and leaders from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris for the UN Climate Conference to negotiate a global climate accord. Intergenerational justice demands that the centerpiece of that accord be zero emissions, a goal UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “ambitious but achievable.” Three months is ample time for your administration to draft a legally binding zero emissions commitment for Paris.
As you know, Pope Francis wrote in his recent encyclical: “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most.” Since the U.S. historically contributed the most to global climate pollution, and is in the strongest position to respond, we have a moral imperative to lead the zero emissions charge in Paris.
The current weak U.S. target of 26-28% carbon cuts by 2025 cannot be described as honest, courageous or responsible in the face of a crisis that threatens the continued existence of humanity. To pretend otherwise is to recklessly gamble with the fate of future generations.
For the sake of our children, and those to follow, it is time to stop promoting “All-of-the-Above” and start protecting all that we love.
Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network
Craig S. Altemose, Founding Executive Director,Better Future Project
Rev. Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church Of Christ*
Jean Arnold, Co-Founder, Association For The Tree Of Life
Lydia Avila, Executive Director, Energy Action Coalition
Harvard Ayers, Co-Author, Arctic Gardens: Voices From An Abundant Land & Executive Director, Climate Voices Ed Begley, Jr., Actor & Activist
Medea Benjamin, Author & Co-Founder, CODEPINK
Michael Benton, Professor Of Vertebrate Paleontology, University Of Bristol*
Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni, Founder, Buddhist Climate Action Network & Director, Buddhist Global Relief
Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus, Friends Of The Earth U.S.
David Blittersdorf, President/CEO, AllEarth Renewables, Inc.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chairperson, Buddhist Global Relief
Ryan Brill, Co-Founder, The Climate Mobilization
Lester Brown, Former President, Earth Policy Institute
Schuyler Brown, Founder & Director, Sightful
Alison Burchell, Co-Founder, Clean Energy Action
Anne B. Butterfield, President, Clean Energy Action
Sandy Butterfield, Former Chief Engineer, National Wind Technology Center, NREL*
Stephen Bygrave, CEO, Beyond Zero Emissions
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
Richard Cizik, Founder & President, New Evangelical Partnership For The Common Good
David Cobb, Outreach Director & Founding Member, Move To Amend*
Gerry Dameron, Executive Director, Go Green Culture Foundation
Lisa Daniels, Founder & Executive Director, Windustry
Laura Dawn, Founder & Director, Art Not War
John W. Day, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University*
Alice & Lincoln Day, Filmmakers, Scarred Lands And Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint Of War
Tim DeChristopher, Founder, Climate Disobedience Center
Michael Dowd, Eco-Theologian & Author
Rev. Gerald L. Durley, Pastor Emeritus, Providence Baptist Church*
Brock Evans, President, Endangered Species Coalition*
Jodie Evans, Author & Co-Founder, CODEPINK
Ed Fallon, Founder, Great March For Climate Action & Director, Climate Action NOW!
John Foran, Author & Co-Director, The Climate Justice Project
Josh Fox, Director, GASLAND, GASLAND Part II
Paul Gilding, Author, The Great Disruption & Former Executive Director, Greenpeace International*
Paul Gipe, Author, Wind Energy Comes Of Age
Leslie Glustrom, Co-Founder, Clean Energy Action
Dave Harman, Co-Author, Arctic Gardens: Voices From An Abundant Land & Finance Director, Climate Voices US
Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network & Executive Director, Foundation Earth
Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute*
Marshall Herskovitz, Former President, Producers Guild Of America*
Julia Butterfly Hill, Activist, Author & Founder, Circle Of Life
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Marine Scientist & Prince Albert II Climate Change Awardee (2014)
Lisa Hoyos, Director & Co-Founder, Climate Parents
Lee-Sean Huang, Cofounder & Creative Director, Foossa
Suzanne Jones, Executive Director, Eco-CycleG.
Paul Kemp, Coastal Oceanographer & Geologist
Ray Kocur, Director, The Youth Climate Report, A Climate Of Change
Robert Kolodny, Founder & Coordinator, New York Buddhist Climate Action Network
Jack Kornfield, Co-Founder, Spirit Rock Center And Insight Meditation Society
Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor The Earth
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine & Chair, The Network Of Spiritual Progressives
Itzcuauhtli Martinez, Youth Performance Director, Earth Guardians
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Youth Director, Earth Guardians
Marti Matsch, Deputy Director, Eco-Cycle
Chloe Maxmin, Co-Founder, Divest Harvard
Brian D. McLaren, Author, Activist & Theologian
Michael Mielke, Co-Founder, Association For The Tree Of Life
Moby, Musician & Activist
Micah Parkin, Executive Director, 350 Colorado
Daniel Pinchbeck, Author & Founder, Center For Planetary Culture
Tamara Rose, Founder & Executive Director, Earth Guardians
Mark Ruffalo, Actor & Activist
Vanessa Rule, Co-Founder & Organizing Director, Mothers Out Front*
Margaret Klein Salamon, Founder & Director, The Climate Mobilization
Marshall Saunders, Founder & President, Citizens’ Climate Lobby*
Yeb Saño, Former Climate Change Commissioner Of The Philippines, Climate Activist & Leader, The People's Pilgrimage
Ashik Siddique, Co-Founder, The Climate Mobilization
Ezra Silk, Co-Founder, The Climate Mobilization
David Spratt, Co-Author, Climate Code Red
Lise Van Susteren, Advisory Board, Center For Health And The Global Environment, Harvard School Of Public Health*
Philip Sutton, Manager, RSTI (Research And Strategy For Transition Initiation) & Co-Author, Climate Code Red
David Suzuki, Co-Founder, David Suzuki Foundation
Terry Tamminen, Former Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency & Co-Founder, R20 Regions Of Climate Action*
Joe Uehlein, Founder & Executive Director, Labor Network For Sustainability
James A. Walker, Former President, American Wind Energy Association*
Peter Ward, Professor Of Biology And Of Earth And Space Sciences, University Of Washington*
Tom Weis, President, Climate Crisis Solutions
Terry Tempest Williams, Activist, Naturalist & Award-Winning Author
Diane Wilson, Author, An Unreasonable Woman
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., President & CEO, Hip Hop Caucus
*Institutional affiliation listed for identification purposes only
September 2, 2015 (New York City, NY) – As President Obama witnessed the dramatic effects of climate chaos in Alaska today, a distinguished group of scientists and environmental, faith, civic and cultural leaders challenged him to champion a courageous U.S. goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 at the upcoming climate talks in Paris.
The challenge, issued in the form of an open letter, describes the current U.S. target of 26-28% emissions reductions by 2025 as a “weak” goal “that cannot be described as honest, courageous, or responsible in the face of a crisis that threatens the continued existence of humanity.” The letter also calls on the Obama administration to abandon its “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
Notable signers include authors Lester Brown and Terry Tempest Williams; actors Mark Ruffalo and Ed Begley, Jr.; environmentalists David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Tim DeChristopher and Yeb Saño; filmmaker Josh Fox; musician Moby; and scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.
The open letter references a 2011 letter sent to President Obama – and signed by some of the same leaders – that called for...