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Protestors at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. Photo: Dima Konsewitch via Flickr.
Protestors at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. Photo: Dima Konsewitch via Flickr.
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Climate March and Summit: world leaders' 'flimsy pledges' denounced

The Ecologist

17th September 2014

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will join the Peoples' Climate March on Sunday - but will leaders at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday be listening? Probably not, but all the more reason to act, and build a broad-based, global, popular movement for climate action.

We must take the action necessary to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet - now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.

This Sunday 21st September hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to march in New York, London, Amsterdam and many other cities around the world to demand climate justice, standing with climate and dirty energy-affected communities worldwide.

They are hoping to influence world leaders gathering in New York for their one-day Climate Summit taking place on 23rd September to exceed the poor expectations vested in them.

"Our demand is for action, not words", the organizers explain. "We must take the action necessary to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet - now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change."

Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) is among those warning that little progress is likely. "A parade of leaders trying to make themselves look good does not bring us any closer to the real action we need to address the climate crisis", said Dipti Bhatnagar, FOEI's Climate Justice and Energy coordinator.

"World leaders are falling far short of delivering what we need to truly tackle climate change in a just way. Their flimsy non-binding pledges in New York will do little to improve their track record.

"What we urgently need are equitable and binding carbon reductions, not flimsy voluntary ones. This one-day Summit will not deliver any substantial action in the fight against climate change."

Record levels, record increases, of greenhouse gases

Last week the World Meteorological Organization warned that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases hit a record in 2013 as carbon dioxide concentrations grew at the fastest rate since global records began.

The impact of increasingly common extreme weather events, such as flooding, droughts and hurricanes, are devastating the lives and livelihoods of many millions of people.

Climate change is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people per year, most of whom live in poorer countries. Without immediate and decisive action, climate change will certainly get worse and could pass a dangerous tipping point where it becomes both catastrophic and irreversible.

The 195 States that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognise that rich, industrialised countries have done the most to cause climate change and must take the lead in solving it, and provide funds to poorer countries.

Both rich and poor countries are failing their people

But developed countries' leaders are neglecting their responsibilities to prevent climate catastrophe, as their positions are increasingly driven by the financial interests of fossil fuel industries and multinational corporations.

The same interests are also opposing renewable energy and have succeeded in undermining support regimes in the UK and elsewhere, limiting the funds available and getting the bulk of the 'low carbon' finance available in the UK diverted to nuclear power - an expensive and ineffective way to tackle climate change.

Bill McKibben and the campaign he founded have highlighted the need to return to 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) - and then lower still - to preserve the planet and its people.

The sharing of this burden, they say, must be based on historical responsibility, capacity to act and access to sustainable development in order to enable a just global transition.

A Peoples' March to end carbon emissions

A total phase out of carbon emissions by 2050 is necessary, says FOEI, in order to reverse current warming trends and minimize the chance of irreversible damage and possible runaway climate change, with reductions agreed through a legally-binding agreement at the UNFCCC.

"Funds are urgently needed for clean, sustainable community energy and adaptation to climate change in developing countries", the group adds, explaining its support for a 'Financial Transactions Tax' as a source of climate finance.

The People's Climate March has been endorsed by over 1,200 organizations representing 100 million people worldwide.

"We know that no single meeting or summit will 'solve climate change' and in many ways this moment will not even really be about the summit", say organizers.

"We want this moment to be about us - the people who are standing up in our communities, to organise, to build power, to confront the power of fossil fuels, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world. To do that, we need to act - together."



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