- On the eve of the Paris climate summit hundreds of thousands of people around the world will take to the streets in over 2300 events in 150 countries to turn up the heat on governments, demanding that they forge an ambitious new global climate agreement this December. Around the world frontline communities, unions, renewable energy champions, climate activists and a host of other groups will demand that governments deliver an agreement to help keep fossil fuels in the ground, finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy for all and protect vulnerable communities from the worst impacts.
- Following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, mobilisations there have been banned. French activists are calling for people around the world to march in their name and in solidarity with them and others affected by terror attacks in Beirut, Baghdad and elsewhere. They will find creative ways to make their calls heard both inside the Climate Summit and around the world. Activists say there are few better responses to violence and terror than the movement’s push for peace and hope, and there couldn’t be a more important time to work for climate justice and the peace it will help bring.
- With these mass mobilisations, government leaders, ministers and negotiators gathered in Paris will find it hard to avoid the irresistible momentum for change. They will feel the moral pressure to get their act together if they don’t want to end up on the wrong side of history. Hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets to demand that leaders get on board with the just transition to a safer, more stable world powered by renewable energy – because it makes sense for people, our economies, and the environment.
- Governments can show climate leadership by signing a global agreement that accelerates the just transition towards a clean and prosperous future. The Summit will need to build on the national commitments made by over 160 countries over the course of the year, which for the first time signalled the world’s collective intend to end the fossil fuel age and to embrace the renewable energy era. These pledges are taking us closer – but not all the way – to keeping global warming below the internationally agreed 2degC limit, or the 1.5degC limit advocated for by over 100 vulnerable countries. More action is needed to unlock more benefits for public like better public health, new jobs and massive cost savings.
- Building on the unprecedented momentum for action, civil society groups advocate for a Paris agreement that includes an ambition mechanism to scale up national targets every five years – towards a long-term goal of decarbonizing the world over the coming decades. Experts also highlight the need for robust financial and technological support for the poorest and most vulnerable countries to reach a fossil free future where poverty is a thing of the past, and where communities can build resilience to severe climate impacts and deal with the loss and damage caused by those impacts they can’t adapt to.
- There is more public and private money for climate action than ever before, and investors are starting to shift the trillions they have in risky fossil fuel assets towards renewable energy. Countries including Canada, Germany, France, the UK, Japan, and even emerging economies like China, alongside companies like Ikea and billionaires like Bill Gates, have all guaranteed billions in climate finance. But aid organizations and development experts argue that in Paris it’s time for all rich countries to keep their promise of providing $100 billion in annual climate finance by 2020 and scaling up from there to deliver reliable financial support to the poorest already suffering from climate change.
- Global momentum for climate action is at an all-time high. This year, the G7 committed to phase out fossil fuels, the world’s largest pension fund decided to divest from coal, faith communities led by the Pope called for urgent climate action on moral grounds, medical professionals warned that unabated climate change would undo 50 years of progress on public health, and business leaders and economists stated that a strong climate agreement would lead to better future growth.
- The growing consensus in favour of making deeper cuts in carbon pollution faster is also a result of climate impacts hitting countries all around the world more violently and more frequently. Air temperatures have reached record-breaking levels, ocean temperatures are the hottest they have ever been in 50 years, and the incidence level for freak floods and heatwaves are at an all-time high. The impacts of carbon pollution already affect some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities by altering the planet’s natural systems along with the livelihoods of the people and communities who rely on them. New science suggests that, without urgent action, climate change could plunge 100 million people into poverty.
- Fossil fuel lobbyists are looking increasingly desperate in their attempts to prevent the inevitable transition from dirty to clean energy. The industry spends millions of dollars everyday to lobby governments and politicians to promote false solutions, at a time when renewable energy is becoming more cost effective and efficient, leaving massive doubts over the future of dirty energy, such as coal which is already in terminal decline, with stock market values crashing and companies filing for bankruptcy. From the OECD to individual countries, support for fossil fuel companies is scaling back at historic levels, and major fossil fuel projects from coal plants in Poland to pipelines in the US and mines in Australia are collapsing. Many agree now that the writing is on the wall, and that Paris can politically confirm a trend we already see in the markets and in public opinion.
- When the UN climate negotiations draw to a close, civil society will ensure that governments understand that they must build on the Paris outcome. They will be held accountable to their moral obligation and political responsibility to manage risks, and to their commitments to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The future is bright as opinion polls from all around the world show overwhelming majorities are demanding solutions. Civil society groups are already gearing up to build on the victories scored so far and to continue to challenge new fossil fuel projects around the world in 2016.