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Environmentalist Reacts to UN Climate Change Report Saying It's "The Last Call" To Save The Planet

Participants in the 2017 People's Climate March.

A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) breaks down the impacts of climate change and global warming.

The report suggests the planet must take action to keep temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius or there will be grave consequences. Global warming’s affects to South Florida have increased flooding during King Tides and saltwater intrusion to its freshwater supplies. On Sundial we took a deeper look at those impacts and how South Floridians can help towards solutions.

Yoca Arditi-Rocha, the executive director of the non-profit CLEO Institute, joined Sundial to discuss how climate science is playing a role in this election season and broke down key findings from the report. 

This interview was co-hosted with WLRN environmental reporter Kate Stein.

LUIS HERNANDEZ: What stood out for you in the report?

ARDITI-ROCHA: I think the level of urgency. It was the last call of the scientific community around the world. It was calling for swift decarburization of our economy to maintain temperatures under the 1.5 threshold. That kind of urgency really struck me most. We've been listening to these reports for many years now, but the IPCC report was very clear that urgent action is needed.

HERNANDEZ: There was a part that stood out for me: There is no documented historic precedent for the sweeping change to energy, transportation and other systems that are required to keep us under that 1.5 Celsius. How does that statement make you feel?

ARDITI-ROCHA: I know that the report really brought a lot of nervousness and people really started to get really worried. I like to focus on the positive that there are solutions available right now to reverse global warming. In fact, one of our most interesting programs out there that we are bringing to South Florida tomorrow is our keynote speaker and the author of the project, DrawdownThe Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The solutions are there. We need to build three things: build public support and second, we need to be sending the economic signals, the market signals, for our economy to be able to decarbonize.  I am most optimistic, but that doesn't mean that the urgency is not there. We need to start acting now.

STEIN: And one of the main things that the scientists talked about in the report was this idea of a carbon tax, to put a price on pollution and that's something that [South Florida] Congressman Carlos Curbelo has proposed actually in the state of Florida. What are your thoughts on that and how could a carbon tax be an economic solution to the issue of global warming?

ARDITI-ROCHA:  We need to be sending those market signals and the policies have been lagging very far, even though there are many countries around the world that are implementing either some sort of carbon dividend or some carbon tax.

STEIN: Can you break down how that works exactly in the countries where some sort of carbon tax is rolled out? Who gets taxed? Who's paying?

ARDITI-ROCHA: What we need to start is actually pricing carbon for what it's worth. So basically being able to account to price carbon so it takes into account the societal costs of all the cost that it is costing cities that are dealing with flooding.

STEIN: So if carbon causes a certain amount of damage, there's a price tag on that damage and then the tax is something to cover that price tag basically.