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TED and Future Stewards announce Countdown, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis

Prince William, His Holiness Pope Francis, Yemi Alade, Monica Araya, Xiye Bastida, Jesper Brodin, Don Cheadle, Dave Clark, Christiana Figueres, Al Gore, António Guterres, Chris Hemsworth, Kara Hurst, Lisa Jackson, Rose Mutiso, Johan Rockström, Prince Royce, Mark Ruffalo, Sigrid, Jaden Smith, Nigel Topping and Ursula von der Leyen join scientists, activists, artists, schools and leaders from business and government to accelerate and amplify solutions

Countdown, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, will launch on October 10, 2020 with a free five-hour live virtual event featuring leading thinkers and doers. This is the moment to act, and they will outline what a healthy, abundant, zero-emission future can look like—turning ideas into action. The event will combine TED’s signature blend of actionable and research-backed ideas, cutting-edge science, and moments of wonder and inspiration. Countdown is one part of a broader series of actions and events this fall including the Bloomberg Green Festival, Climate Week NYC and others, all with the collective objective of informing and activating millions in the lead-up to a successful UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021.

The Countdown launch will be streamed live on TED’s YouTube channel. This global event will be the first-ever TED conference that is free and open to the public. Segments from the event, including the biggest talks and performances, will be made available immediately across all digital platforms. The program includes 50+ pieces of content—talks, performances, animations and more. Speakers will touch on topics such as:

  • Climate science and the climate crisis: Where are we today?

  • Why climate justice matters

  • Putting climate back on the political and social agenda

  • What businesses can do—and are doing—to transform and transition

  • Rethinking our cities

  • Stepping up at work and at home

  • The path to a safer, cleaner, fairer future for people and the planet

A full agenda and speaker list can be found here.

In addition to the live global event, over 500 TEDx Countdown virtual events in nine languages are planned around the world, encouraging communities and citizens to take action locally while also feeding local solutions and ideas into the global conversation. Countdown has also convened a global Youth Council of recognized activists who will help shape the Countdown agenda throughout the year. Additionally, Countdown is working to engage people through art with ten public art installations in global cities around the 10.10.20 event and open calls for art––illustration and photography––to run throughout the year on the Countdown website.

“The moment to act on climate change has been upon us for too long, and now is the time to unite all levels of society—business leaders, courageous political actors, scientists and individuals—to get to net-zero emissions before 2050,” said Chris Anderson, Countdown founding partner and Head of TED. “Climate is a top priority for TED and members of our community, and we are proud to fully dedicate our organization in the fight for our collective future.”

Countdown brings together a powerful collaboration of partners from all sectors to act on climate change,” said Lindsay Levin, Countdown founding partner and CEO of Leaders’ Quest. “We need to work together with courage and compassion to deliver a healthy, fair, resilient future for everyone.”

With so many people who have already committed to addressing climate change, Countdown is about radical collaboration—convening all stakeholders to build on the critical work already underway and bringing existing, powerful solutions to an even broader audience. Powered by TED and Future Stewards, Countdown aims to answer five fundamental, interconnected questions that inform a blueprint for a better future:

  • ENERGY: How rapidly can we switch to 100% clean power?

  • TRANSPORT: How can we upgrade the way we move people and things?

  • MATERIALS: How can we re-imagine and re-make the stuff around us?

  • FOOD: How can we spark a worldwide shift to healthier food systems?

  • NATURE: How do we better protect and re-green the earth?

Countdown is asking companies and organizations to join the Race to Zero through Business Ambition for 1.5°C, which is a commitment to set science-based targets aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and through The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net-zero carbon by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement goal of 2050.

“We can inspire others through action and example, because there is no hope without action,” said 17-year-old climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, a lead organizer of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement. “We are fighting to ensure this planet survives and flourishes for future generations, which requires intergenerational cooperation. Countdown is about coming together across ages and sectors to protect the earth and ensure we leave it better than we found it.”

“Five years after the unanimous signing of the Paris Agreement, many countries, companies and citizens are doing what they can about the climate crisis. But this is not enough,” said Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief (2010-2016), now co-founder of Global Optimism. “We have this decisive decade to achieve what is necessary—cutting global emissions in half over the next ten years is vital to meeting the goal of net zero by 2050. I am delighted to partner with Countdown to increase the global stock of stubborn optimism that is needed to push every company and country—and engage citizens—in actions that decouple carbon from our economy and way of life in this decade.”

Following the launch, Countdown will facilitate a number of sector leader working groups along with the initiative’s network of partner organizations through November 2021. These will focus on delivering breakthrough progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. During next year’s Countdown Summit (October 12-15, 2021, Edinburgh, Scotland), the initiative will share an actionable blueprint for a net-zero future and celebrate the progress that’s already been made.

Citizens are the critical component of this initiative and anyone can #JoinTheCountdown by:

Connect at Countdown@ted.com

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on TED.com and other platforms. Audio versions of TED Talks are published to TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.

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About Future Stewards

Future Stewards is a coalition of partners (Leaders’ Quest, Global Optimism and We Mean Business) working together to build a regenerative future – where we meet the needs of all, within the means of the planet. Founded after the Paris Agreement, Future Stewards equips individuals, businesses and communities with the awareness and tools required to tackle systemic problems, scale what works and build cross-sector collaboration.