Written by: Kimberly White 

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have joined forces to fight the climate crisis and inspire action around the world.  

On December 2nd, the pair launched World War Zero, a coalition made up of what Kerry describes as “unlikely allies.” World War Zero boasts a plethora of well-known celebrities, politicians, and business leaders. In addition to Kerry and Schwarzenegger, former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Iceland President Olafur Grimsson, former EPA Administrator and Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Cindy McCain are among the founding members. 

The coalition aims to mobilize people around the globe, with a special focus on the United States where climate change has been a polarized topic among politicians. To combat that, the new initiative brings together democrats, republicans, independents, diplomats, generals, and more. 

“We are bringing together unlikely allies who may not agree on everything, but who have enlisted in this effort to do everything they can to mobilize people to tackle climate change on every front,” said Kerry. 

The coalition aims to create the same tenacity to act as seen during World War II. World War Zero plans to reach millions of people throughout the next year through social media and town halls.

“When America was attacked in World War II we set aside our differences, united and mobilized to face down our common enemy, and not only won that war, but pulled ourselves out of the Great Depression and built the strongest middle class the world has ever seen.” said Kerry. “We are launching World War Zero to bring that spirit of unity, common purpose, and urgency back to the world today to fight the great threat of our time: climate change.”

Unified, collective action will be critical in the coming decade for the world to avert a global crisis. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, greenhouse gas emissions must fall by more than 7% each year during the 2020s. 

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director. “Countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.”

2019 has been a year where youth activists, scientists, and environmentalists have been sounding the alarm. Millions of kids have taken to the streets demanding their politicians take action on climate change, putting ethics at the center of the global debate. In November, 11,000 scientists came together to declare a climate emergency

“Our fossil fuel addiction is killing us. Pollution kills 7 million people every year. Millions of our children suffer from pollution-induced asthma. We can do better,” said Schwarzenegger. 

Air pollution impacts millions around the world. According to the UN Human Rights Council, 800 people die every hour due to cancer, respiratory illnesses, or heart disease directly caused by breathing polluted air. In Kabul, Afghanistan, air pollution caused by vehicle emissions, power generators, and waste burning are killing twice as many people every year as war. 

“It is time to build a clean economy and World War Zero has brought together leaders from different backgrounds with different viewpoints to find the way forward and inspire every citizen to act. Working together, we can and will build a cleaner and healthier future and fight climate change while protecting our economy and creating new jobs,” urged Schwarzenegger.

To learn more or to get involved, please visit World War Zero.

Header Image Credit: U.S. State Department