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  • We are at a remarkable moment in time.

  • We face over the next two decades

  • two fundamental transformations

  • that will determine whether the next 100 years

  • is the best of centuries or the worst of centuries.

  • Let me illustrate with an example.

  • I first visited Beijing 25 years ago

  • to teach at the People's University of China.

  • China was getting serious about market economics

  • and about university education,

  • so they decided to call in the foreign experts.

  • Like most other people,

  • I moved around Beijing by bicycle.

  • Apart from dodging the occasional vehicle,

  • it was a safe and easy way to get around.

  • Cycling in Beijing now

  • is a completely different prospect.

  • The roads are jammed by cars and trucks.

  • The air is dangerously polluted

  • from the burning of coal and diesel.

  • When I was there last in the spring,

  • there was an advisory for people of my age

  • over 65 —

  • to stay indoors and not move much.

  • How did this come about?

  • It came from the way in which

  • Beijing has grown as a city.

  • It's doubled over those 25 years, more than doubled,

  • from 10 million to 20 million.

  • It's become a sprawling urban area

  • dependent on dirty fuel, dirty energy,

  • particularly coal.

  • China burns half the world's coal each year,

  • and that's why, it is a key reason why,

  • it is the world's largest emitter

  • of greenhouse gases.

  • At the same time, we have to recognize

  • that in that period China has grown remarkably.

  • It has become the world's second largest economy.

  • Hundreds of millions of people

  • have been lifted out of poverty.

  • That's really important.

  • But at the same time, the people of China

  • are asking the question:

  • What's the value of this growth

  • if our cities are unlivable?

  • They've analyzed, diagnosed

  • that this is an unsustainable path of growth

  • and development.

  • China's planning to scale back coal.

  • It's looking to build its cities in different ways.

  • Now, the growth of China

  • is part of a dramatic change, fundamental change,

  • in the structure of the world economy.

  • Just 25 years ago, the developing countries,

  • the poorer countries of the world,

  • were, notwithstanding being the vast majority of the people,

  • they accounted for only about a third

  • of the world's output.

  • Now it's more than half;

  • 25 years from now, it will probably be two thirds

  • from the countries that we saw 25 years ago

  • as developing.

  • That's a remarkable change.

  • It means that most countries around the world,

  • rich or poor, are going to be facing

  • the two fundamental transformations

  • that I want to talk about and highlight.

  • Now, the first of these transformations

  • is the basic structural change

  • of the economies and societies

  • that I've already begun to illustrate

  • through the description of Beijing.

  • Fifty percent now in urban areas.

  • That's going to go to 70 percent in 2050.

  • Over the next two decades, we'll see

  • the demand for energy rise by 40 percent,

  • and the growth in the economy and in the population

  • is putting increasing pressure on our land,

  • on our water and on our forests.

  • This is profound structural change.

  • If we manage it in a negligent

  • or a shortsighted way,

  • we will create waste, pollution, congestion,

  • destruction of land and forests.

  • If we think of those three areas that I have illustrated

  • with my numberscities, energy, land

  • if we manage all that badly,

  • then the outlook for the lives and livelihoods

  • of the people around the world

  • would be poor and damaged.

  • And more than that,

  • the emissions of greenhouse gases would rise,

  • with immense risks to our climate.

  • Concentrations of greenhouse gases

  • in the atmosphere are already

  • higher than they've been for millions of years.

  • If we go on increasing those concentrations,

  • we risk temperatures over the next century or so

  • that we have not seen on this planet

  • for tens of millions of years.

  • We've been around as Homo sapiens

  • that's a rather generous definition, sapiens

  • for perhaps a quarter of a million years, a quarter of a million.

  • We risk temperatures we haven't seen

  • for tens of millions of years over a century.

  • That would transform the relationship

  • between human beings and the planet.

  • It would lead to changing deserts,

  • changing rivers, changing patterns of hurricanes,

  • changing sea levels,

  • hundreds of millions of people,

  • perhaps billions of people who would have to move,

  • and if we've learned anything from history,

  • that means severe and extended conflict.

  • And we couldn't just turn it off.

  • You can't make a peace treaty with the planet.

  • You can't negotiate with the laws of physics.

  • You're in there. You're stuck.

  • Those are the stakes we're playing for,

  • and that's why we have to make this second transformation,

  • the climate transformation,

  • and move to a low-carbon economy.

  • Now, the first of these transformations

  • is going to happen anyway.

  • We have to decide whether to do it well or badly,

  • the economic, or structural, transformation.

  • But the second of the transformations,

  • the climate transformations, we have to decide to do.

  • Those two transformations face us

  • in the next two decades.

  • The next two decades are decisive

  • for what we have to do.

  • Now, the more I've thought about this,

  • the two transformations coming together,

  • the more I've come to realize

  • that this is an enormous opportunity.

  • It's an opportunity which we can use

  • or it's an opportunity which we can lose.

  • And let me explain through those three key areas

  • that I've identified: cities, energy and land.

  • And let me start with cities.

  • I've already described the problems of Beijing:

  • pollution, congestion, waste and so on.

  • Surely we recognize that in many of our cities

  • around the world.

  • Now, with cities, like life but particularly cities,

  • you have to think ahead.

  • The cities that are going to be built

  • and there are many, and many big ones

  • we have to think of how to design them

  • in a compact way

  • so we can save travel time and we can save energy.

  • The cities that already are there, well established,

  • we have to think about renewal and investment in them

  • so that we can connect ourselves much better

  • within those cities, and make it easier,

  • encourage more people, to live closer to the center.

  • We've got examples building around the world

  • of the kinds of ways in which we can do that.

  • The bus rapid transport system in Bogotá in Colombia

  • is a very important case of how to move around

  • safely and quickly in a non-polluting way

  • in a city: very frequent buses,

  • strongly protected routes, the same service, really,

  • as an underground railway system,

  • but much, much cheaper

  • and can be done much more quickly,

  • a brilliant idea in many more cities

  • around the world that's developing.

  • Now, some things in cities do take time.

  • Some things in cities can happen much more quickly.

  • Take my hometown, London.

  • In 1952, smog in London killed 4,000 people

  • and badly damaged the lives of many, many more.

  • And it happened all the time.

  • For those of you live outside London in the U.K.

  • will remember it used to be called The Smoke.

  • That's the way London was.

  • By regulating coal, within a few years

  • the problems of smog were rapidly reduced.

  • I remember the smogs well.

  • When the visibility dropped to [less] than

  • a few meters,

  • they stopped the buses and I had to walk.

  • This was the 1950s.

  • I had to walk home three miles from school.

  • Again, breathing was a hazardous activity.

  • But it was changed. It was changed by a decision.

  • Good decisions can bring good results,

  • striking results, quickly.

  • We've seen more: In London, we've introduced the congestion charge,

  • actually quite quickly and effectively,

  • and we've seen great improvements

  • in the bus system, and cleaned up the bus system.

  • You can see that the two transformations I've described,

  • the structural and the climate,

  • come very much together.

  • But we have to invest. We have to invest in our cities,

  • and we have to invest wisely, and if we do,

  • we'll see cleaner cities, quieter cities, safer cities,

  • more attractive cities, more productive cities,

  • and stronger community in those cities

  • public transport, recycling, reusing,

  • all sorts of things that bring communities together.

  • We can do that, but we have to think,

  • we have to invest, we have to plan.

  • Let me turn to energy.

  • Now, energy over the last 25 years

  • has increased by about 50 percent.

  • Eighty percent of that comes from fossil fuels.

  • Over the next 20 years,

  • perhaps it will increase by another 40 percent or so.

  • We have to invest strongly in energy,

  • we have to use it much more efficiently,

  • and we have to make it clean.

  • We can see how to do that.

  • Take the example of California.

  • It would be in the top 10 countries in the world

  • if it was independent.

  • I don't want to start any

  • (Laughter)

  • California's a big place.

  • (Laughter)

  • In the next five or six years,

  • they will likely move from

  • around 20 percent in renewables

  • wind, solar and so on

  • to over 33 percent,

  • and that would bring California back

  • to greenhouse gas emissions in 2020

  • to where they were in 1990,

  • a period when the economy in California

  • would more or less have doubled.

  • That's a striking achievement.

  • It shows what can be done.

  • Not just Californiathe incoming government of India

  • is planning to get solar technology

  • to light up the homes

  • of 400 million people

  • who don't have electricity in India.

  • They've set themselves a target of five years.

  • I think they've got a good chance of doing that.

  • We'll see, but what you're seeing now

  • is people moving much more quickly.

  • Four hundred million, more than the population

  • of the United States.

  • Those are the kinds of ambitions now

  • people are setting themselves

  • in terms of rapidity of change.

  • Again, you can see

  • good decisions can bring quick results,

  • and those two transformations, the economy and the structure