An international group of journalists and scientists has called upon world leaders gathering shortly for the UN climate conference in Copenhagen to "draw a road map being a binding agreement for a total de-carbonization of world economy before 2050".
They urged that no more time be lost, and to set out a road map, one which is agreed to and has the power of international law.
"Every country must assume its responsibility based on emissions produced and its economic level," says the Viterbo Memorandum, adopted at the end of the 7th Greenaccord International Media Forum on the Protection of Nature, held in the central Italian city of Viterbo from 25 - 29 November 2009.
The Memorandum added: "On their own side, they (journalists and scientists) vow to cooperate in order to spread correct information on the risk related to climate change and to make aware the public opinion on the need of individual contribution to the solution of problems by modifying their own life style."
The Memorandum is to be delivered in early December 2009 to Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel Peace Prize winning Chairman of the UN's climate panel, the IPCC.
The annual Greenaccord forum's theme this year was 'Climate is changing: stories, facts and people'. Over five days, some 130 participants from 55 countries converged at the Renaissance period Domus La Quercia, where they discussed and debated how communicators can make a difference in a world facing a major environmental crisis. This year's line-up of speakers included 10 Climate Witnesses who travelled from far corners of the world to share their stories of ground level changes induced by climate change. They complemented the views of some of the world's top climate and environmental scientists.
Professor Andrea Masullo, President of Greenaccord’s Scientific Committee, said: “I don’t want our children and grandchildren, in 2050, finding themselves on a planet inhabited by more than 9 billion people and devastated by climate change, re-reading the scientific reports of today…to ask themselves what we were thinking and why we did not do anything when everything that was going to happen was clear.”
He added: ''In recent years the changes are progressing much faster than expected in the fourth IPCC report. Nevertheless, it seems that Copenhagen will not come again to a final agreement. Many governments feel they can take initiatives costly and complicated the current economic crisis. "
The Viterbo Memorandum recalled how, during the first Greenaccord International Forum held Rapolano, Siena, Italy, in 2003, more than 100 journalists coming from all over the world, had signed a “Green Accord” for Journalists.
That document acknowledged: "We know the climate is changing, probably as a result of humanity’s pollution; species are disappearing fast; deforestation is rampant; over-fishing is rife; water shortages are increasing; resource consumption is growing and so is the world’s population."
Projecting to a hundred years into the future, it cautioned: "If we take the wrong path, we could face a world where temperatures have soared, with potentially devastating consequences for life as we know it. Economic activity would be severely disrupted. Mass migration of environmental refugees would bring misery to millions. People previously dependent on fish would face serious problems with nutrition. Grain belts may shift and food security be disrupted. More wars would erupt over natural resources. The poor will bear the brunt, but no one will completely escape. If at that time we were driven by doubtful fears, today, unfortunately, science has focused and confirmed the risks which humanity is exposed to."
That first Green Accord document also noted: "If this catastrophe unfolds, historians will look back and ask how that was allowed to happen with so little media debate. They may wonder what stories journalists were telling while the world was transformed around them."
This year's Greenaccord Forum agreed how scientific consensus has recently emerged that the next decades are crucial for the future of humanity. "Anthropogenic pressures on the Earth System converge to a critical point that, by negative synergy, risk to produce irreversible changes in parameters which have driven life on our planet during the entire development of human civilization."
The Viterbo Memorandum noted: "All participants to this Forum agree in considering urgent a global deal to avoid the collapse of civilization and open a new era of progress for whole humanity."
TVE Asia Pacific's Director Nalaka Gunawardene was present at this event, and is a signatory to the Viterbo Memorandum. He has been a regular participant at the annual Greenaccord Forum. This year, he screened TVEAP's latest film, Small Islands, Big Impact which amplifies the views of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a frontline state especially vulnerable to climate change.
Launched in 2003, the Greenaccord Forums have emerged as one of the largest annual gatherings of environmental journalists, broadcasters and activists at global level. As an organisation, Greenaccord aims to be an international “virtual table” open to all professionals in information and communication who want to deepen understanding about environment and its protection with their work.
Read the full text of the Viterbo Memorandum
Read more about the 7th Green Accord Forum
Photos courtesy Greenaccord