Jeffrey was a major author, back in the Millennium Year of a set of eight interlocking goals that would together help eliminate extreme poverty in the world. These goals were formed under the auspices of the United Nations, and were adopted by the United Nations with funding goals. If the member nations adopted both the goals and the funding structure, the goals might have been met by this year, 2015.
I became very inspired and energized by the hope of the Millennium Development Goals, as the eight goals were called, and worked with others to involve The Episcopal Church. We had tremendous success in this work, mainly because the goals and the plan were compelling, and because The Episcopal Church is a deeply compassionate, intelligent Christian body.
Yesterday at COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change, meeting in Paris, Jeffrey gave an energetic, compact update on work he is currently doing, which surrounds the updated goals of the United Nations, the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)). The SDGs contain, among other things, a very important new goal, Goal 13 on climate change. The Episcopal Church's policy platform while we are at COP21 includes support of the SDGs.
The focus of Jeffrey's talk yesterday was Deep Decarbonization. The idea is that we need to look at target dates - 2050 is a common one being used - and think backwards from that in assessing if our efforts of addressing climate change are enough. Already at COP21 there is significant criticism, based on this retro (in a good way) thinking of the 2-degree warming cap for the planet - it is too high. Two degrees will cause, it is thought, catastrophic damage in many life-systems, for instance to low-lying human cultures and ecosystems.
Deep Decarbonization describes not only the retro-thinking needed to see how we are doing in stretching toward a sustainable future, but describes what can best be called a transformative approach to climate change. As Ron Heifitz at Harvard has taught, there are technical fixes and there are adaptive approaches. The former could be called tweaks; adaptation has more to do with creativity, imagination, and sustained, focused effort. It is adaptation understood in this way - creative, imaginative, and applied with great energy over time - that is needed to reach a sustainable future.
There are some places, notably Stockholm, that are way out front in Deep Decarbonization, and there was a very solid panel from Stockholm speaking just before Jeffrey, and the mayor of Stockholm was part of a response panel to his talk. Take a look at what Stockholm is doing, and think about what your local community, city or region could do.