It's Different This Time - COP21
by Rolly Montpellier
As a Climate Reality Leader (Chicago 2013), I'm pleased to feature excerpts from the Halftime on the Road to Paris post from the Climate Reality site.
One hundred and ninety-five. That’s how many countries are involved in negotiating a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions at the UN talks coming up in Paris later this year. Getting 195 governments to agree on a climate agreement is tough, but we’re seeing progress already. Here’s how several key nations are making their way down the Road to Paris.
So if you want to get a very crowded room to agree on something, how do you do it? You start by putting together a list of the most influential people in there, the ones who have the most sway when they speak. Because if you can get these people to take the first step with, say for example, committing to big cuts in carbon emissions, everyone else is much more likely to go along. Then you get to work.
Road to Paris
This was our plan when we launched the Road to Paris campaign this spring. Reach out to people in the nations that matter most in the Paris negotiations – places like India, the Philippines, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and the US – and let them know what’s happening and what they can do to turn up the pressure on their leaders to seize this historic opportunity.
Specifically, we’re asking citizens in these countries and around the world to add their names to our petition demanding that world leaders act boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’re working to generate millions of signatures for the petition and deliver them at the beginning of the Paris talks.
What’s different this time is that it’s not just your activist friend or well-intentioned aunt signing this one and emailing the link to the family (though we’re grateful that they’re doing that too). It’s millions of people who all look very different and speak very different languages – Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, English, French, among others – all speaking up at once. And they’re all saying the same thing: Take climate action now.
How Do We Know It's Working?
With such a diverse audience and the campaign working in every continent except Antarctica (while penguins are intimately familiar with the realities of climate change, their lack of opposable thumbs makes them not so great at signing petitions), numbers tell an important part of the story, but only part of it. So below are some postcards of progress from a Canada and the United States.
You might have seen Canada’s less than ambitious commitments to the Paris climate talks and gotten the idea that Canadians weren’t getting what’s at stake. But you’d be mistaken. Case in point: witness the progress Ontario, led by Premier Kathleen Wynne, has made in eliminating coal-fired power plants from its energy mix.
Then add to that list the nearly 500 citizens who came to our Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in July to learn how they could help take all the exciting things happening in the provinces to the federal level. Then after the training wrapped up, these activists took over the streets of downtown Toronto to talk to thousands of people about climate change and our opportunity for historic progress in Paris. Not bad for a day’s work.
It’s no secret that the fossil fuel industry isn’t exactly President Obama’s biggest fan. And we’re guessing that attitude didn’t improve much when the president announced the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
The plan creates the nation’s first federal limits on carbon pollution from US power plants, aiming to cut emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and gives states the flexibility to develop an emissions reduction strategy that works for them.
It’s no understatement to say that the plan is a really big deal and a critical part of US efforts to bring the world together to support an agreement in Paris. So as fossil fuel companies and their government friends were taking to the air to read straight from the fear-and-misinformation playbook, Climate Reality activists and friends were getting busy too, deluging Congressional switchboards with calls supporting the plan and spreading the word through local media and their social networks.
We’ve got a long fight ahead of us to protect the plan in the face of such angry opposition, but if we’ve learned anything since it was announced, it’s that plenty of Americans are ready, willing, and able to jump in and fight hard.
If there’s one thing we’d ask you to take away from these stories, it’s the fact that this time is different. Sure, there’s always the temptation to be cynical and dismiss signs of progress when it comes to solving climate change. After all, we’ve got 195 countries to motivate. But cynicism is easy and cheap and it never achieves anything important. Hope is tough in the face of big challenges and complicated processes like UN talks.
What’s different is that this time, we’re seeing awareness spread and people around the world calling for leaders to take climate action with a strong agreement in unprecedented numbers. Which makes us hopeful that we can get an agreement that takes an important first step toward kicking the fossil-fuel habit on a planet-wide scale. And you can affect the outcome.
There are now less than 100 days until the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. Last week the EU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete warned that negotiations ahead of the conference must accelerate if any agreement is to be meaningful.
In the negotiating rooms, progress has been painfully slow. The technical talks are seriously lagging behind the political discussion and this must change...The window of opportunity... is closing fast.
So the question is quickly becoming will this time be different?TAKE ACTION NOW - Sign the Petition!
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.org
. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and a Climate Activist. Rolly has been published widely – Toronto Star, The Hill Times, Kingston Whig, the PEN, UnpublishedOttawa, Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, County Weekly News.
He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa). You can follow him on Facebook