December 14, 2015

Cause for hope after COP21

Corporate Accountability organizers demand Big Polluters to stand down at climate talks

On Saturday, December 12, leaders of wealthy countries congratulated themselves on a deal well done. On the same day, communities on the front lines of climate disaster declared that government leaders the world over failed us. All of us.

Today I want to make some sense of the results with you.

Though I am filled with outrage, my heart is also filled with hope. I am determined that we will still find a true and just solution to the global climate crisis all of us face.

The Paris agreement will not protect people from the devastating impacts of climate change, nor will it require wealthy countries pay for their disproportionate role in causing this crisis.

We stand firmly and proudly with communities most affected by climate change — indigenous people, people who live in the Global South, women around the world. We are honored to partner with them, to organize as an ally. We redouble our commitment to securing climate policy globally that prioritizes the lives of those who are least responsible for climate change, yet who are experiencing its terrifying effects the most.

And we know the only way to secure that policy is to remove the fossil fuel industry from the table.

We did not get the agreement that the world needs in Paris. The U.S. and other wealthy countries, on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, bullied less powerful countries. They forced an agreement that falls far short of protecting millions of lives, fails to bring justice to the most affected communities, and does precious little to safeguard the future of the planet.

The agreement is covered in the fingerprints of the world’s largest polluters.

The results of COP21 in Paris emphasize how critical it is to protect climate policy from big polluters. That call is echoing thunderously around the world, in the streets, in the media, and all over the internet.

You have invested greatly in the outcomes of these treaty negotiations. Many, many of us have, in so many ways. The last few months have been filled with sleepless nights organizing, strategizing with allies in every region of the world, deeply committing financial resources, waging campaigns against the odds. We’ve done so because the stakes are so high. And because we understand that transformative, earth-shaking breakthroughs in social change are neither predictable nor linear. And that we absolutely must do the hard work that gets us to the groundbreaking change we need.

What I asked myself over the weekend, and what I want to share with you now is: Where do we find hope?

Here’s where I find hope — and the fierce determination to build even more powerfully from here:

In the heart-soaring demonstration of solidarity and resistance by people in Paris and around the world. As the Paris talks drew to a close, and the nature of the final agreement took shape, the people rose up. Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Paris, and hundreds of thousands of people from around the world rallied in their cities and towns. We joined with climate justice allies, women and indigenous leaders, and youth organizers to demand more and to demonstrate the source of true power and vision. We are right here at the heart of it as the climate justice movement comes into its full power.

In details of the agreement that we can leverage. Through the COP21 agreement, governments recognize that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is our best chance to survive. Though not enough, it does provide leverage for demanding we keep fossil fuels in the ground and quickly transition to renewable energy sources.

The agreement also stipulates that governments must come back to the table every five years to increase their commitments. This gives us a tool to make uncompromising demands of our leaders and hold them to account, right away, because that is what the world needs. And we know that we will only be able to achieve policies that set us on track to meet these goals by excluding the fossil fuel industry and its irreconcilable conflict of interest from the policymaking table.

In the journalists who told the story behind the spin of wealthy governments and industry robber barons. For months leading into COP21, we built relationships with journalists who are seeking the truth in the story around climate policy. Your support funded our media organizing, which, alongside the work of our allies, resulted in hundreds of stories around the world. As the talks began, high-level media outlets called into question and laid bare the corporate role in undermining climate talks. You can be sure that the stories we garnered and shaped in The Financial Times, Democracy Now!, and France’s Libération are just the beginning. As we move forward, our strategies will continue to prioritize deepening relationships with journalists. We will build even more global momentum and visibility.

In you who have put your hearts on the line; who prioritized the need to kick big polluters out of climate policy. You have acted and given of yourself with courage and generosity. In talking with so many of you over these past few months, I know you care as fiercely about climate justice and the future of our planet as I do. And I know you will not give up in the face of bullying by the U.S. and the powerful, polluting interests the U.S. represents. Neither will we.

Today is the beginning of a new chapter for the climate movement. One of resilience and power-building; one of hope and courage. One of translating outrage into action. It is my deep honor to open this new chapter in partnership with you, and in partnership with people around the world. Together, we must — we will — transform the systems that have brought us to this moment, into a world that is just and sustains all life.

Side by side, I know we can achieve what might seem impossible, but what is absolutely necessary. That is what we do.

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