COUNTDOWN, A Global Collaboration to Tackle Climate Crisis

Countdown Content to be Amplified on and by YouTube

Leaders Coalesce to Build Public Support and Partnerships for the Countdown to Zero Net Emissions

A Summit in Bergen, Norway in October 2020 Linked to Satellite Events Around the Globe


NEW YORK, Dec. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Today TED and Future Stewards with Christiana Figueres announced Countdown: a global collaboration to turn the tide on climate change.

The name Countdown refers to the necessary reduction to zero net greenhouse gas emissions called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

A summit of 1,000 leaders and influencers – representing a cross-section of nations, businesses, cities, and citizens – will be held in Bergen, Norway from October 6-9, 2020. The following day – 10.10.2020 – will be celebrated as a major global gathering made up of thousands of connected local events in cities, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces around the globe—coordinated by the global TEDx community and other partners. Countdown content will be promoted by YouTube, and many YouTube creators will be invited to take part both in Bergen and at local events being held around the globe.

Content will focus on five big questions:

POWER: How rapidly can we move to 100% clean energy?
The plunging cost of renewables is a thrilling game-changer.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: How can we re-engineer the stuff that surrounds us?
We need regenerative economics and a materials revolution.

TRANSPORT: How do we transform the ways we move?
It’s time to rethink our cars, trucks, ships and planes for the 21st century.

FOOD: How can we spark a worldwide shift to healthier food systems?
A delicious, nutritious future can be good for farmers — and the planet.

NATURE: How extensively can we re-green the earth?
Our forests, soil and oceans can return us to a stable carbon cycle — and save countless other species.

The months leading up to the Countdown summit will involve intense preparation by climate experts, policy makers, visionary business leaders, and thousands of local organizers who will discuss, debate, and create a plan of action based on these questions.

Countdown invites everyone to play a part in counting the world’s emissions down to zero. The intent is not to be something brand new, but to amplify and cross-fertilize the extraordinary work that has already been done by so many. Powerful solutions have already been proposed by more than 50 authorities on climate issues. Our website provides information and opportunities for people around the globe to join the effort. 

A team led by Future Stewards and TED will select the best proposals and turn them into talks.  These will be delivered at the Countdown summit in Bergen, in front of a hand-picked audience capable of turning those ideas into action.

The proposals and their accompanying commitments for action will be shared with the world on 10/10/20 with an opportunity for global companies, cities and individuals to participate. For the cities portion, C40 and the Global Covenant of Mayors have joined as official partners, and for the first time local TEDx organizers – operating 4,000 events annually – will activate to bring Countdown to their communities. Beyond cities and TEDx, companies around the world are invited to join this initiative and engage with employees on how to best play a part.

Countdown is a partnership between TED and Future Stewards – and supported by a growing network of partner organizations, including YouTube, C40, Global Covenant of Mayors, Climate Reality Project, Climate Leadership Initiative, Global Citizen, and Project Drawdown. Individuals are also lending their voices, among them climate scientists Johan Rockström with the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden; Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC and Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment; and Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Others include Pierce Brosnan, Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ava DuVernay, Davis Guggenheim, Jimmy Kimmel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Norman and Lyn Lear, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, and Meg Ryan.

Among the leaders who convened today to announce Countdown were: Chris Anderson, Head of TED; Christiana Figueres, previously Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during the Paris negotiations; António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Tshering Tobgay, former Prime Minister of Bhutan; Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States; Jessica Walsh of &Walsh, who created the campaign visuals; actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo; Ted Halstead, Chairman and CEO of the Climate Leadership Council; and Yuval Noah Harari, historian, philosopher and author of Sapiens.           

"To turn the tide on climate will require an unprecedented response at all levels of society, including courageous political leadership, transformative business vision, philanthropic audacity and wide-scale citizen engagement," said Chris Anderson, Head of TED. "We face a climate crisis that threatens us all, and while TED has never before taken on a specific issue, we concluded that it’s no longer enough just to spread ideas. Some issues demand urgent action, which is what propelled us to take on what will be the most ambitious initiative ever attempted by this organization. And it’s only possible because so many extraordinary partners have joined the growing Countdown coalition to lay the foundation."

"Addressing climate change and taking immediate collective action is not only imperative, it is beneficial to everyone. Never has a topic been more timely, more urgent, and more important for all of us," said Christiana Figueres, founding partner of Future Stewards and Global Optimism, and co-author of the forthcoming book The Future We Choose. "Countdown will invite everyone’s creativity, ingenuity, and stubborn optimism to help us all tackle the massive challenge of counting the world’s emissions down to net zero, including moving beyond fossil fuels, eliminating waste and reforesting the earth. We must have a bold vision for the creation of the regenerative future we can choose to create, and Countdown is sure to help us get there."

"I care about a changing climate because it is, as the military calls it, ‘a threat multiplier’. It takes issues like poverty and hunger, disease, lack of access to clean water, even political instability, and exacerbates or amplifies them," said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Center at Texas Tech University. "That’s why, to care about a changing climate, we don’t have to be a certain type of person. A thermometer isn’t blue or red, liberal or conservative. It gives us the same number no matter how we vote, and we are all affected by the impacts of a changing climate. No, to care about a changing climate, all we have to be is one thing: a human living on planet earth."

"Over 1,000 of the world’s largest companies have made bold commitments to climate action through our coalition partners’ initiatives. Well over 100 are united behind what science says is necessary to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C," said Steve Howard, co-chair of the We Mean Business coalition board. "It is on our watch that the climate crisis has taken hold, and it will take all of us to rise to the challenge. Now is the time for businesses everywhere to step up their ambition on climate change so we can build a better future faster."

"We are running out of time to solve the climate crisis," said former Vice President Al Gore. "The solutions are available and millions of global citizens are calling for action. Countdown is uniquely positioned to harness this momentum, and to mobilize the best ideas across every region of the world to confront this existential threat to humanity. As we head into a crucial year for climate action in the U.S. and globally, this effort could not be more important or more timely."

"We can’t turn the tide on the climate crisis unless we work across sectors and city limits, and ignite far-reaching support for the steps needed to cut emissions, strengthen global health, and build a clean-energy economy that works for everyone," said C40 Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "The 2020s will be a make-or-break decade for the preservation of our planet, and I am proud to lead C40 as they play a central role in this fight. Together, with all those involved in Countdown, we can deliver climate action, inclusive prosperity, and environmental justice to every community."

TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, has a longstanding record of inspiring and supporting environmental engagement, including TED Prize winner Dr. Sylvia Earle’s campaign to create marine protection hot spots; Audacious Prize recipients Environmental Defense Fund and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and hundreds of other TED Talks on climate change and the environment – including Greta Thunberg’s globally recognized TEDxStockholm Talk.

You can watch the recorded live theater announcement here. Find image assets here.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, including our annual gathering in Vancouver, as well as TEDWomen, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on and other platforms. Audio versions of the talks from TED2019 are published to TED’s podcast TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which licenses thousands of individuals and groups to host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; The Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives; TED Translate, which crowdsources the subtitling of TED Talks so that big ideas can spread across languages and borders; and the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED also has a growing library of original podcasts, including The TED Interview with Chris Anderson, WorkLife with Adam Grant, TED en Español and Sincerely, X.

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About Future Stewards

Future Stewards is a coalition of three partner organizations – Global Optimism, Leaders’ Quest and We Mean Business – committed to building a regenerative future where we meet the needs of all within the means of the planet.  The coalition came together in 2016 after the breakthrough Paris Climate Agreement to help leaders step up to the challenges of our changing world.

Global Optimism is a purpose-driven enterprise focused on social and environmental change, led by Christiana Figueres and Tom Carnac.

Leaders’ Quest is a social enterprise, founded by Lindsay Levin, that equips CEOs and their teams for the demands of the 21st century. It helps them drive transformation through wisdom, compassion and the ability to grasp diverse perspectives.

We Mean Business is a non-profit coalition working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change. It catalyses business leadership to drive policy ambition and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Erin Allweiss | TED: 

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Source: Announcing… COUNTDOWN, A Massive Global Collaboration to Tackle the Climate Crisis Powered by TED and Leaders from Policy, Business, Science, Story-telling and Civic Engagement