Climate envoys to receive letter, asking: Why do you care?

French special envoy Nicolas Hulot to send message through diplomatic channels ahead of Paris summit in December

By Ed King

“As you prepare to come to Paris we would like to ask you to think about your personal role, and answer a simple, but profound, question: Why do I care?”

That’s the question ministers, negotiators and other officials will have to answer – if only to themselves – as a result of a letter signed by leading religious and cultural figures that will be sent to all 195 ministries preparing for a potential global climate deal.

Signatories include ex-California governor and action film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brazilian politician Marina Silva and Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus.

Organised by Nicolas Hulot, special envoy for the French President for the protection of the planet,  the letter asks each delegation member to think about what a greenhouse gas slashing pact will mean for themselves.

“Your response might be very personal – the influence of a parent, child or grandparent; the influence of culture or personal beliefs; the influence of a transformative experience of the wonder and beauty of nature; a crisis in your life which brought you back to core values,” it says.

“In our contemporary world it is very rare that we are asked to talk about what lies at the heart of our actions. Instead we hide behind statistics, data, policy statements etc, few of which actually touch other people’s hearts and minds.”

Officials from nearly 200 countries are expected back in the French capital in December to finalise plans for an agreement to limit warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The contents of the letter were crafted at the Summit of Conscience for Climate, hosted by the French government in Paris this week.

It goes on: “Many of the Summit attendees are signatories to this letter, and each has gone through the thoughtful, sometimes tough, often revealing process of trying to find an honest answer, rather than just an obvious one.

“In telling the story of Why do I care, you will be joining millions around the world, including the example set recently by His Holiness The Pope, in making climate change and the protection of our beautiful planet a personal issue of our own beliefs and values.

“Why are we asking you to do this? Because we hope that in answering this question, you will come to the COP primarily as a conscious human being not just a representative of a Government or agency.”

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