Skip to main content
Elders Statements

The Elders appeal directly to world leaders on climate change: “Strong leadership has never been more needed”

Share this:

The Elders urge all 192 world leaders to attend the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and call for a fair, ambitious and effective deal that will lead to a legally binding agreement.

  • In personal letters to 192 Heads of State and Government, The Elders have called for a fair, ambitious and effective deal in Copenhagen that will lead to a legally binding agreement.
  • Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Gro Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and their fellow Elders urge leaders to attend the climate talks in person.

The Elders – a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela and chaired by Desmond Tutu – have written to 192 world leaders, urging them to attend the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and reach a deal that is fair, ambitious and effective.

They acknowledge that a political agreement rather than a legally binding treaty is now the likely outcome of the December talks, but say that a deal reached in Copenhagen should be robust enough to drive progress towards a legally binding agreement to effectively tackle climate change.

In their letter, The Elders express concern at the “lack of progress towards an outcome in December” and stress that “strong leadership has never been more needed than it is today.”

The Elders detail the outcomes needed to address climate change, and the differentiated but shared responsibilities of all nations. Industrialised nations, they say, “should face their historic responsibilities” by making the biggest and fastest cuts to emissions and providing the majority of financial support for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

Major developing economies such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa also need to reduce emissions, “but in a way that does not prevent them from improving the standards of living of their citizens”.

All countries must develop and adopt low carbon growth plans. Accountability and monitoring of progress will also be critical to success, as will periodic reviews of the latest science and learning to adjust global and national targets, actions and funding.

Read the Elders’ letter in full.

Notes to editors

  1. The Elders are an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.
  2. The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.


Share this article

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.


I would like to find: