'Now is the time for climate justice' says Mary Robinson


Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson speaking at the 2015 Grantham Annual Lecture

Former Irish president Mary Robinson called for action now on climate justice at the Grantham Annual Lecture on Thursday.

The president of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice and United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change delivered a rousing talk emphasising the pivotal role of upcoming international negotiations in tackling both climate change and human rights issues.

A trio of high-level meetings in 2015 can trigger action on Climate justice. Addis Ababa will host a Finance for Development conference in July, an opportunity for nations to commit further to climate finance. This September sees the UN General Assembly gather in New York to adopt the post-2015 development agenda. And in December, the UNFCCC’s climate conference (COP21) in Paris will see world leaders thrash out a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Robinson called for strong leadership and ambition in Paris from developed and developing countries, citing the moral imperative to develop a "fair, inclusive and participatory" response to climate change. International cooperation is vital to support developing nations in producing a new model for fossil-fuel-free economic development, she said.

Addressing a packed lecture hall, she urged the international community to steer clear from the "business as usual" pathway, which has allowed widespread inequality to prevail. Instead all countries should make the transition towards a zero carbon economy that ultimately is the key to long-term prosperity.

Asked by an audience member for her thoughts on fossil fuel divestment, Robinson responded that there was a need for thoughtful and considered discussion as organisations develop long term plans to “divest and reinvest” in renewables.

Drawing the lecture to a close, Robinson issued a plea for immediate action on climate change. “Now is not the moment to manage expectations or get cold feet. 2015 is the moment to catalyse a transformation. Now is the time for climate justice.”

“It was an honour to welcome Mary Robinson to Imperial and to learn about how our research relates to future social justice,” said Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute.

“She emphasised the need to step outside of our silos to achieve success. This message is an inspiring one for the world-leading scientists at Imperial. Through the Grantham Institute’s increased collaboration with social science, and experts in poverty alleviation, we can tackle this truly interdisciplinary challenge.”


Ms Alexandra Franklin-Cheung

Ms Alexandra Franklin-Cheung
Centre for Environmental Policy

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