Archbishop Desmond Tutu is leading a campaign backed by 11 celebrities, scientists and political leaders from around the world publishing an open letter calling on US Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The call came as over 1.9 million people fed into the public consultation that ended last week on whether the US government should approve the pipeline, which experts say would end any hope of the US meeting its 17% emission reduction target by 2020 when taking the full carbon costs of the project into account.

The letter can be seen below and it contained the following call:

“US Secretary of State Kerry is about to make what may be the biggest decision on global climate policy of his term. The verdict on whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline could, in just one stroke, confirm or condemn America’s prospects for climate leadership. This is a US policy decision that will have truly global significance. Keystone XL is his chance to set a correction course on US energy policy and open up a new clean energy future. We hope he does.”

Supporting Desmond Tutu in signing the letter were Dr James Hansen who was the former head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Yeb Saño – Climate leader, Philippines, the actress Daryl Hannah and director Fernando Meirelles together with 4 leading environmental politicians from across the world. Actress Kristin Bauer also signed the letter.

The letter was coordinated by the global civic movement Avaaz which saw 930,000 people from every country across the planet call on Kerry not to back the deal. The group also released a hard-hitting ad campaign across the DC Metro which can be seen here below and will be joining the protests outside the State department today.

Emma Ruby-Sachs, Avaaz Campaign Director said: “Archbishop Tutu and a slew of other global leaders have joined 1.8 million people who are calling on the US to lead the world to a better climate future. It’s up to Kerry to listen and act. This decision could determine whether the US is serious about fighting to save the planet, or even able to meet its existing global emissions reductions.”

Keystone XL would pump up to 830,000 barrels per day of the world’s dirtiest oil from Canada across the US, contributing millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Moreover, it would undercut US efforts to spur international climate ambition ahead of the crucial Paris climate summit next year, sending both market and political signals that tar sands and other extreme fossil fuels are an acceptable part of future energy production.

Opposition to the project is growing across the US with demonstrations taking place outside the State Department today and last Monday over 400 students were arrested in Washington in a protest called XL Dissent.

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