Photo: barnyz via Flickr

Our Last Chance

My United Nations remarks on the urgency of climate action.

Thank you Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Ministers, ladies and gentleman, and fellow citizens.

I am here today as an environmental advocate, but also a father, grandfather, and a concerned citizen — one of billions around the world who are urging you, to take action now on climate change.

I am an actor by trade, but I’m an activist by nature. Someone who has always believed that we must find the balance between what we develop for our survival, and what we preserve for our survival.

Your mission is as simple as it is daunting: Save the world before it’s too late.

My own engagement on climate change began more than 40 years ago. And the urgency I felt then has only grown stronger.

Along the way, one of my initiatives was to bring mayors from around the world, who are closest to people, together at Sundance to talk about the threats of climate change.

And, when the nations of the world gather in Paris this year, they’re going to be joined by those mayors, business, and civic leaders — ready to make commitments to action now.

Nothing less than the fate of our planet will hang in the balance. And the imperative for action should not be more clear.

Today, we can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for inaction. It is the overwhelming judgment of science that climate change is real — and the result of human activity.

And, as Pope Francis has so eloquently pointed out, climate change is a moral imperative that transcends politics.

We see the effects all around us — from drought and famine in Africa, and heat waves in South Asia, to wildfires across North America, devastating hurricanes and crippling floods here in New York.

A heat wave in India and Pakistan has already claimed more than 2,300 lives, making it one of the deadliest in history.

So, everywhere we look, moderate weather is going extinct.

All the years of the 21st century so far have ranked among the warmest on record. And as temperatures rise, so do global instability, poverty, and conflict.

The best scientists in the world tell us that we’ve already used up more than half of our remaining carbon budget.

Now, an increase of just two degrees Celsius is all that separates our planet from becoming so much less habitable. That’s a difference that’s barely perceptible to human skin, but two degrees is all it takes to turn an agricultural breadbasket into desert, and eliminate fresh water from a third of the world’s land surface, by 2100.

So, our window of opportunity is narrow, and the margin between success and catastrophic failure is unfortunately thin. And the time for half measures and climate denial is over.

Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, we must act boldly, and we must act immediately.

We are all responsible for this crisis.

Right now citizens, communities, corporations and countries around the world are stepping up to the challenge.

More than 500 cities have made the decision to create jobs, improve quality of life and reduce emissions by investing in clean energy.

Last year the U.S. and China, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas, agreed to historic carbon reductions.

But no country can solve this crisis alone. We’ve all got to do more.

We must be a movement that includes every single nation on earth, because climate change affects every nation on Earth.

This December, the world must unite behind a common goal.

This is it. This is our only planet, our only life source. This may be our last chance.

Our planet’s resources are limited, but there is no limit to the human imagination and our capacity to solve our biggest problems.

Only by acting now and standing together behind a universal climate agreement can we live up to the UN’s founding promise.

Only by acting now and standing together can we achieve the results we need in the time we have left.

Only by acting now and standing together can we tip the scales and change the course of history.

When 193 countries take center stage in Paris this December, the citizens of the world will be watching. We are looking to you to assume the leading role in combating climate change. And I hope you will embrace that role with courage and conviction.

Thank you.