Action/2015 campaign presses leaders for action on climate change, poverty

The action/2015 movement is demanding an end to extreme poverty and an accelerated transition to 100% renewable energy. Creative Commons: UK Department for International Development, 2009

The action/2015 movement is demanding an end to extreme poverty and an accelerated transition to 100% renewable energy. Creative Commons: UK Department for International Development, 2009

A coalition of more than one thousand organizations launched a campaign called action/2015 on Thursday, calling on local and world leaders to harness growing momentum to contain global warming and alleviate poverty worldwide.

Research associated with the campaign has uncovered a stark reality: if critical decisions on poverty are ignored, almost a billion extra people face a life of extreme poverty, with billions more continuing to face a life of hardship.

A new study released by the coalition shows that the number of people living in extreme poverty could be reduced dramatically from over a billion to 360 million by 2030. Based on work by the University of Denver, in the year 2030, about 4% of the global population would live in extreme poverty, (compared to 17% today) if critical policy choices on inequality, poverty investment and climate change are made and implemented.

The broad coalition, which is backed by such philanthropic voices as Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono, and Mo Ibrahim, is urging leaders to take action at two crucial summits this year: the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN climate talks in December.

The campaign’s objectives focus on promoting solutions that are known and achievable, but have not yet been adequately implemented by world governments.

These include urgently accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy so that that a safe climate and sustainable economy is possible, securing economic systems that reduce poverty and inequality, and ensuring worldwide access to nutritious food, clean water, essential services, and decent employment.

The ambitious agenda of the campaign is being publicized by an impressive roster of youth activists, including Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. In 2012, Taliban gunmen tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Yousafzai based on her advocacy for female education.

In a statement on the action/2015 campaign, Yousafzai said:

People globally want an end to injustice, poverty and illiteracy. Our world is interconnected and youth are ready and mobilised more than ever to see real change take place. Together, we are demanding our leaders take action in 2015 and we must all do our part. I will continue to work tirelessly to call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality primary and secondary education for every child. That is my goal and I hope that my voice will be heard as it is the voice of millions of children who want to go to school.

Debora Souza, a Brazilian campaigner who is serving as a spokesperson for the action/2015 pointed out that many of the transitions necessary to fight climate change and poverty are already underway. “Now it’s up to governments to accelerate those positive trends and make 2015 the year that brings the world closer to a safe and prosperous future for everybody,” Souza said.

The campaign’s launch includes activities taking place in more than 50 countries around the world. In keeping with action/2015’s focus on youth, many of these events will prominently feature 15 years, a constituency that will be among the most affected by decisions made at this year’s summits.

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Quick Facts on Poverty Alleviation

  • The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action.  >> UN, 2013