In his address, Monbiot supported the 350.0rg Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign. He repeated Bill McKibben’s line that 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground (implying that 20% could still be burned emitting a further 565 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – 60% more than the emissions to date).
In question time, Philip Sutton (Save the Planet Candidate for Batman) asked Monbiot why we should endorse the burning any further fossil fuel given the massive impacts of extreme weather events over the last 15 years and massive melting of Arctic ice driven by what’s been burned already.
“I was amazed by his response” Philip said. “Most celebrities defend their position, but George took the question totally seriously. He thought for a few seconds and then recounted an experience he’d had recently. The international sustainability manager of IKEA had told him that the company got a much better response when suppliers were given unambiguous goals for environmental performance. If there was any wiggle room each supplier wanted to be the one that didn’t have to tighten its standards. But if they are told there is no option but to go fully sustainable, they complain a bit initially and then get on with it. George said that, on reflection, that’s how we should go with the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil free doesn’t mean burning another 20%, it means zero.”
Climate Summit delegates picked up on this in the final Summit communiqué:
“The Summit heard reports confirming climate science warnings that urgent action needs to be taken now, that the earth is already too hot, and our carbon budget for a safe climate is zero. Attendees heard that the Earth has been warming by the equivalent of 4 Hiroshima bombs per second for several decades. We need 100% renewable energy and all fossil fuels to stay in the ground. If all levels of government along with governments of other leading polluting nations do not move with emergency speed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, billions of people’s lives are at risk.”
The George Monbiot video but doesn’t include the Q&A session.