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An Interview with Mónica Araya

Summary:
This week, PS talks with Mónica Araya, Transport Lead for Climate Champions, an independent international team coordinating Race To Zero campaigns for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Project Syndicate: In 2018, you and Carlos Manuel Rodríguez discussed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report showing conclusively that we urgently need to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5° Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Nearly two years later, what progress has been made? How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected this effort, and how might it reshape climate action?Mónica Araya: Recognition of the climate emergency has entered the mainstream among people on every

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This week, PS talks with Mónica Araya, Transport Lead for Climate Champions, an independent international team coordinating Race To Zero campaigns for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Project Syndicate: In 2018, you and Carlos Manuel Rodríguez discussed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report showing conclusively that we urgently need to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5° Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Nearly two years later, what progress has been made? How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected this effort, and how might it reshape climate action?

Mónica Araya: Recognition of the climate emergency has entered the mainstream among people on every continent. This is especially true for young people, who have woken up to prospect that, to paraphrase the teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, their futures could be “stolen” by climate change – or, more specifically, by leaders’ failure to address it properly. This awareness was emerging in 2018; today, few question its salience.

Collectively, we have also gained clarity about what addressing the climate crisis actually requires, including halving global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 at the latest. The energy and road transport sectors are among those that will require the biggest overhaul this decade. Fortunately, in both areas, we have the technology we need.

Yet – and this must be made clear in communications with the public – addressing climate change doesn’t come down to a technological fix. As the pandemic has highlighted, the crisis also has an important social-justice component. While no one is exempt from the effects of the crisis, some – those who are already the most vulnerable – are suffering far more than others. So, we are not only seeking to protect our planet; we must also work deliberately to protect people. And we are not only seeking to safeguard our future; we must also address the suffering that is happening today.

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