Words to Live By: Quotes from World Leaders on Environmental Protection and Climate Action

“By 2030, demand for food may increase by 35%, for water by 40%, and for energy by 50%. Innovative solutions that meet this increased demand while conserving critical natural ecosystems are a necessity…” — Achim Steiner, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator, on the creation of the UN Biodiversity Lab

“Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” — Pope Francis, addressing oil executives at the Vatican (more from the Pope in his encyclical, Laudato Si)

“The choices that we make today will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live.” — Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, on India’s single-use plastic ban

“The world today is very fragile and it’s our duty to do everything to unite people and nations to remind them that we don’t have a planet B.” — Viacheslav Fetisov, UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions, on plans for a “last game” hockey match in the Arctic

“Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first. We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies.” — Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica, speaking about the nation’s move to renewables

“We are witnessing the severe impacts of climate change throughout the world. Every credible scientific source is telling us that these impacts will only get worse if we do not address climate change and it also tells us that our window of time for addressing it is closing very soon…We need to dramatically increase our ambitions.” — Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at an April 2018 press conference on the Paris agreement negotiations

“By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no planet B.” — Emmanuel Macron, President of France, in April 2018 speech to the U.S. Congress

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment. As the old proverb goes: ‘We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children.” — Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, in an April 2018 statement introducing a bill to ban single-use plastic bags

“On Earth Day, let us reaffirm our commitment towards creating a better planet for our future generations. Let us work together to mitigate the menace of climate change. This would be a great tribute to our beloved Mother Earth.” — Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, in an April 2018 tweet

“We don’t know the exact timing or the magnitude of the global warming threat. We know it’s a problem. We know it’s huge. We know we can’t stop it. We have to wake up Europe, and wake up America, and wake up the whole world to realize that we have a common destiny and what’s at stake. Let’s lead the whole world to realize this is not your normal political challenge. This is much bigger. This is life itself. It requires courage and imagination.” — Jerry Brown, Governor of California in a speech at the United Nations conference on climate change in Bonn in 2017

“The sustainability train has left the station. Get on board or get left behind… Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future.” — UN secretary general António Guterres during a 2017 speech

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.” — Pope Frances in Laudato Si (the Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment)