Stepping Up the Ante Pre-Paris 2015

04/27/2015 01:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 27, 2015

Prince Charles has been the latest big name to move his fortune out of the "dirty" oil, gas and coal sector.

Modeled on the same campaign used to blacklist supporters of apartheid South Africa, the fossil fuel divestment movement has gained serious global traction over the past 12 months.

It now has distinguished supporters from the United Nations, to the original oil dynasty itself, the Rockefellers.

The news comes less than nine months before the UN hosts perhaps the important gathering in history since it was set up in the aftermath of WWII.

World leaders will gather in Paris this December to strike a global deal designed to pull our planet back from the brink of catastrophic climate change.

And, regardless of what the fossil fuel-funded skeptics may say, the stakes couldn't be higher: the future of our civilization hangs in the balance.

Owing to our unbridled use of oil, gas and coal, our planet is currently on track to warm by more than four degrees celsius by the turn of this century.

That's according to the UN's latest blockbuster climate series, penned last year by some 800 of the world's most eminent scientists.

A four-degree temperature rise will usher in changes not seen since the last Ice Age.

It will dramatically reduce food yields, ushering in an era of mass starvation and conflict as people battle it out over rapidly diminishing resources.

And, whilst this may sound like some dystopic fantasy reminiscent of The Hunger Games, this is what could happen this century unless we take concerted global action now.

After all, as carbon emissions remain trapped in the atmosphere for decades, if not centuries, even if all fossil fuels were abandoned tomorrow, our world is still locked in for a certain degree of warming.

And, according to the Earth League, a coalition of leading scientists and economists, there is a 10 percent chance that temperatures may race past the 6C mark.

Mark Lynas likens a 6C world to Dante's sixth realm of hell, replete with fireballs shooting across the sky, setting parts of the planet alight into a never ending burning inferno.

According to the Earth League, which includes former World Bank chief economist Lord Nicholas Stern, and U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs, "such a 1 in 10 probability is the equivalent of tolerating about 10,000 airplane crashes every day worldwide!"

That's why prominent figures from the head of the International Energy Agency, to Sir David King, the UK's former top scientist, describe 2015 as a seminal year for the planet: "We have a chance at the upcoming meeting in Paris, and i don't think that we have a another chance after this one," says King.

Yet, in spite of the gravity of the situation, current national pledges are not enough to prevent the catastrophic warming of our planet.

Five years ago, world leaders promised to limit that level of warming to two degrees celsius. But, the sum total of pledges submitted thus far are not enough to honor this vow.

Earlier this week, the Earth League called on world leaders to stand by their 2C pledge. In order to achieve this goal, they say that global carbon emissions will need to approach zero by 2050.

That means that three quarters of known fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground. Johan Rockström, one of the of the lead authors of the statement warned:

"The window to navigate ourselves free from a 'beyond 2C future' is barely open. You don't want the Earth to go from friend to foe ... this could happen quite soon; we need to bend the curve on emissions over the next 10 to 15 years."

The Earth League also urged world leaders to put a price on carbon, and called on the richest nations to take the lead with the most stringent cuts.

Last November, the U.S. and China, the world's largest emitters, set the stage for this December's Paris shindig. After nearly two decades of squabbling over who should bear the brunt of cuts, both sides agreed to step up to the plate, and lead other nations to the table.

Determined to leave a climate legacy, Barack Obama has been patiently laying down the groundwork for a robust 2015 accord. The Paris talks offer the US president a once in a lifetime chance to seal an international deal which will be remembered as a seminal moment in history.

Meanwhile, Obama's Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping has put fighting pollution at the top of his agenda as a toxic smog crisis in Beijing threatens to unleash civil unrest. In many ways, the stars are looking fairly aligned for this year's climate talks in Paris.

Moreover, the cost of the renewable energy is only getting cheaper and cheaper.

According to Deutsche Bank, rooftop solar power will soon become the most affordable source of energy in the U.S. Meanwhile, Citigroup says that renewables will become cheaper than natural gas within the next decade.

This not only makes the much needed clean energy revolution affordable, it also means that developing nations can leapfrog over conventional sources of energy like coal and go straight to solar. HSBC says that if dramatic advances in battery storage are made, this would "transform the energy economy."

Yet, renewable's share of the global electricity market still stands at a meager 9 percent.

But, if a strong accord is struck in Paris, it will give markets the signal to invest more heavily in this field. And, the pace of change could then take on lightening speed.

Ultimately, in order to fight climate change and avoid planetary collapse, we need to rethink our relationship to nature, and learn to live in harmony with the natural world that provides us sustenance and home.

According to a new report by Capital Institute, the world needs to move beyond the stark choices of capitalism or socialism, and embrace what it refers to as holism.

A holistic approach emphasizes that we are all one: connected to one another, and to all life on earth. And, by damaging any part of the web, we are ultimately only hurting ourselves.

Perhaps, no where is this more apparent than in our fight against man made climate change.

Only by realizing that we are all part of one global community, dependent on this planet that we all call home, will we be able to defeat this crisis, which will soon affect all life on earth.