Japan's Plan To Make Climate Change Fight 'Sexy'
'Boring' stories of death, destruction and devastation are out, as Japan seeks to make the fight against climate change fun, cool and even sexy.
The charge is being led by newly appointed Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.
Speaking on the eve of the United Nations climate summit in New York, Koizumi pledged to mobilise young people to push the coal-reliant country toward a low-carbon future.
How? By making the fight "sexy", "fun" and "cool".
"In politics, there are so many issues, sometimes boring. On tackling such a big-scale issue like climate change, it's got to be fun, it's got to be cool. It's got to be sexy too," he told a news conference.
"We are committed to realising a decarbonised society, and we are ready to contribute as a more powerful country in the fight against climate change."
His pledge came in the wake of global strike action which saw millions of people swarm the streets to demand urgent climate action. Among them were hundreds of thousands of Australians, including many children.
Their calls came in the wake of bleak new findings.
A new United Nations report has confirmed the past five years have been the hottest on record. The world has warmed by 1.1C since pre-industrial times and 0.2C compared with the period from 2011 to 2015.
It also found that climate change is accelerating. Carbon dioxide levels are on the up, sea levels are rising and ice sheets are disappearing.
"Sea-level rise has accelerated and we are concerned that an abrupt decline in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will exacerbate future rise," said World Meteorological Organisation secretary general Petteri Taalas.
"As we have seen this year with tragic effect in the Bahamas and Mozambique, sea-level rise and intense tropical storms led to humanitarian and economic catastrophes."
He labelled the challenges "immense", while warning there was a growing need to adapt and improve to help slow down climate change.
The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries vow to reduce their carbon emissions to limit long-term temperature rise by 2C. Monday's report found that the world is on track to warm by up to 3.4C, even if all countries meet their goals.
This analysis will be central to the upcoming Climate Action Summit in New York, which is all about moving forward and pledging action, rather than just speaking about it.
As with Koizumi, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that the talks needed to be overwhelmingly positive and constructive.
"I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments," he said. "People can only speak if they come with positive steps. That is kind of a ticket.
"For bad news, don't come."
Youth activist Greta Thunberg, who has inspired millions of students to strike to demand more action, will be among those to speak in New York, so too will close to 60 heads of state including from China, India, France, Germany and the U.K..
They will announce new actions and initiatives to limit the causes of global warming.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Shinzo Abe from Japan have been barred from speaking, partly due to their nations' continuous reliance on coal-fired power stations.
Demonstrators are even planning to bring an inflatable version of Abe to the meeting in protest of his support for coal.
Brazil, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will not be represented.
While Morrison will be nowhere to be seen, Australian tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brooks has travelled to the summit to announce that Atlassian will adopt a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The software giant will become the first major Aussie company to join the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5C.
The company is among 87 others -- with a combined market capitalisation of over US$2.3 trillion and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants -- which are taking action.
While he won't be speaking at the event, Cannon-Brooks said he was heading over because "we have a responsibility to act" and to "fly the Australian flag", the Guardian reports.
It's hoped the more positive, action-motivated approach will result in more people taking action, forcing change and not taking no for an answer.
"This is a battle we can, and must, win," Guterres said.