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Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born on 7 August 1956) is a Costa Rican diplomat. She was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change between 2010 and 2016.
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- Those corporations that continue to invest in new fossil fuel exploration, new fossil fuel exploitation, are really in flagrant breach of their fiduciary duty because the science is abundantly clear that this is something we can no longer do.
- “We struggled for years to be able to bring all of these nature-based issues together. There is no such thing as ‘climate is over here in one bucket, close the lid, open another bucket and here is deforestation, forests and land use, close lid, open another bucket and here are the ocean issues’. They are all part of the same ecosystem upon which we depend.”
- “If we do not address climate change in a timely manner, it does not really matter what we do on human rights, on education or on health, because destruction on the planet will be so severe, everything else will fall by the wayside.”
- We have the capital, the technology, the policies. And we have the scientific knowledge to understand that we have to half our emissions by 2030. So we are facing the most consequential fork in the road. If we continue as now, we are going to be irreparably going down a course of constant destruction, with much human pain and biodiversity loss. Or we can choose to go in the other direction, a path of reconstruction and regeneration, and at least diminish the negative impacts of climate change to something that is manageable. But we can only choose it this decade. Our parents did not have this choice, because they didn’t have the capital, technologies and understanding. And for our children, it will be too late. So this is the decade and we are the generation.
- Whatever we hold as being possible, and whatever values and principles we live by, determine the actions that we take.
- The very concept of being a consumer already points us in the direction of consuming irresponsibly. We have to be able at some point, particularly in developed countries, to get to the point where we say “enough is enough”. Before you make a purchase, or an investment, or any kind of decision that impacts on the planet and on other people, the question should be: “Do I really need this and is this actually conducive to furthering the quality of life on this planet?”
- Educating young women and empowering women to come to decision-making tables is the strongest thing that we can do for the climate. When there are more women in boardrooms and in high-level positions in institutions, you get decisions that are wiser and longer term. Of course there are many men that also do this. But there is a tendency for women to be more collaborative, which is the basis of what we need to do, and they tend to think much more long term. [Women] have the first duty of care of our newborn children and hence, biologically, we’re geared towards that stewardship. But it is just plain stupid, frankly, not to use 50% of human potential. We are in such an emergency that we need to deploy 100% of our potential.
- People reducing their emissions – by flying less, eating less meat and using clean energy, for example – is important.
- We are now at the most critical crossroads in the history of humanity.
- On my first press conference, a journalist asked...Ms. Figueres, do you think that a global agreement is ever going to be possible? And without engaging brain, I heard me utter, not in my lifetime. Well, you can imagine the faces of my press team, who were horrified at this crazy Costa Rican woman who was their new boss. And I was horrified, too. Now, I wasn't horrified at me because I'm kind of used to myself...I was actually horrified at the consequences of what I had just said. Horrified because I thought, OK, well, that expresses the mood. But is that what we really want for our future generations? Are we going to give up now just because this was an incredible attempt and we failed? Is that a reason to give up, and then to condemn future generations to the ravages that will be brought upon them? And I, you know, very quickly I said no, you know, I can't do that.
- Impossible is not a fact. It's an attitude. It's only an attitude. And I decided right then and there that I was going to change my attitude, and I was going to help the world change its attitude on climate change.
- I have to change my attitude first. And then, I have to figure out how to be contagious about that.
- it's never one individual. Far from it. It has to be a critical mass of people who bring their ingenuity, their innovation, their creative thinking and their solution development together. If we're going to do this, it has to be an everyone-in effort. So we went from something that was impossible in 2009 to something that was, OK, maybe possible. Over the years, we moved from possible to likely. And then, eventually, in 2015, to unstoppable. So that arc of possibility is what eventually led to the Paris Agreement.
- Don't confuse the waves with the current...The current that we have, which is the underlying trajectory of the global economy, independent of the political tides, is definitely toward decarbonization.
- we wanted to write a scenario that is actually science-based. But picture this...Picture that you live in a city...That you walk out of your house and, actually, the air is fresh and moist. Why? - because humanity has actually done a mega-planting of trees across the entire world. And we have replenished the forest cover that had been lost. And that forest cover is actually helping us to clean the air and to bring temperatures down. We will have regenerated soils. And we will have regenerated the oceans. Now you have oceans that are plentiful. And you have soils that are fertile and producing - on less land, they're producing much more. Imagine that you walk out of your home. And instead of getting into your singly owned, gas-guzzling vehicle, you actually have a smart vehicle that comes around. It picks you up. And of course, it's an electric, clean vehicle. And it takes you to wherever you want to go. No parking. And all of that area that used to be for parking of all of these stupid vehicles is actually now transformed into gardens. Imagine that all of the buildings will have - on the roof, they will either have solar panels for electricity or they will have food gardens. Imagine that every single surface is actually going to be capturing sunlight to produce the energy for that building or it's going to be contributing to cleaning the air and bringing down the temperature.
- We are totally on the way of smart design of cities. It is not science fiction. If you look for examples of any of this, it's all already underway.
- We're not victims of the past; we are creators and creators of the future.
- If you're angry, if you're despairing of whatever - what that is is energy. The only thing you have to do is harvest that energy and change the characteristic of it, and then you're contributing to the solution.