Earth Legacy Campaign Launched at World Environment Day Celebration in San Francisco

Leading Environmental and Foreign Policy Experts Call for Creation of a New U.S. Commission to Address Global Environmental Deterioration

SAN FRANCISCO (June 4, 2004) - Citing the growing deterioration of the environment around the world and the decline of U.S. global leadership, a nonpartisan group of environmental and foreign policy luminaries today joined with leading nongovernmental organizations to announce the Earth Legacy Campaign.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a call for Congress to reassert U.S. global environmental leadership by establishing a commission to review the state of the global environment, its effect on U.S. interests, and current efforts to protect it.

The Earth Legacy campaign will be announced today at a luncheon where San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the United Nations will launch plans for a major celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, 2005, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations here.

Among the growing list of former top government officials and ambassadors, leading scientists, and other distinguished experts signing onto the Earth Legacy declaration are Russell Train, who served during the Nixon administration as the first chairman of the president's Council on Environmental Quality and later as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Gus Speth, CEQ chairman under President Carter and currently dean of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. (Click here to see the declaration for more signatories.)

The declaration states in part: "World population expected to grow from 6 to 9 billion by mid-century, spreading industrialization, increasing urbanization, and rising consumption are creating enormous pressures on the air, water, and land of our small planet…. Without urgent action to reverse current trends, the degradation of the Earth's environment will undermine our public health, national security, and economic interests…. We need a new consensus and foundation upon which to build a renewed U.S. commitment to protect the global environment."

The Earth Legacy campaign is being launched by a coalition of 19 environmental and foreign affairs groups (click here to see list of coalitions) and co-chaired by Jacob Scherr, director of the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Harry Blaney, president of the Coalition for American Leadership Abroad. (For more information about the campaign, click here.)

"The dramatic decline in U.S. leadership on global environmental issues is not only an environmental issue, but it is now clearly an acute concern for the foreign policy community," said Blaney. Scherr added that "the goal of the campaign is to stimulate a national discussion about what sort of planet we want to leave to our kids." Speaking for Earth Legacy at the San Francisco event, Mark Epstein, deputy director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "The need to reexamine our nation's role in protecting the global environment has never been more urgent."