Were The Climate Change Talks In Paris A Complete Failure?
This week, L.A. area Congressman Ted Lieu organized 45 other Members of Congress to sign identical letters to the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, British Petroleum, Shell and Peabody Energy, which they sent off yesterday. (At the link above you can see who signed the letter-- and who didn't.) Lieu's letter comes right to the point:
As members of Congress concerned about climate change and the devastating effects it is having and will continue to have on our planet, we are alarmed by reports stating that Exxon (becoming ExxonMobil in 1999) hid the truth about the role of fossil fuels in influencing climate change and intentionally spread disinformation about climate science.Bernie Sanders isn't waiting... he's already introduced legislation to cut carbon emissions by a globe-saving 80%. "What the scientists tell us," he explained to his Senate colleagues on the floor Tuesday, "is that we have a relatively short window of opportunity to bring about the fundamental changes that we need in our global energy system to transform our energy system. It is absolutely vital that we do what many economists tell us we must and that is put a price on carbon. It is the simplest and most direct way to make the kind of cuts in carbon pollution that we have got to make if we are going to successfully transition away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy." And this is besides the bills he introduced a day or two earlier, the American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 and The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to create millions of jobs and drive over $500 billion in clean energy investments between now and 2030." Sticking with the status quo is a doomsday scenario. I suggest you get involved with making sure that doesn't happen.
Given the information that has come to light from multiple investigations, we request that you answer the following questions: When did your company first become aware that using fossil fuels could result in climate change and warming of the planet? What did your company do with this information? Did your company fund organizations that denied climate change or sought to spread uncertainty about climate change?
Marie Clarke is the Executive Director of ActionAid USA, a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty. We asked her to access the UN Climate negotiations that just wrapped up in Paris today.
Find a Lifeboat!
-by Marie Clarke
If the Paris agreement stands, we are all going to need one...
Today the climate negotiations in Paris came to a close. Government leaders and their delegations will head home with an agreement that will result in global temperature rises of more than 2 degrees.
For those of us heading into the winter months, that might not sound like a lot. But it will have huge impacts. Wildfires in the U.S. will increase by 400-800%. Hurricanes could become as much as 8% stronger and crop yields could drop by 10-30%. And if that’s not enough, we could have 30% less fresh water!
If we let this failure of global leadership stand, we should each book a spot on a lifeboat and brace for the storm.But there is another way. We can organize, and build a global movement of solidarity to demand innovative strategies that reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and help our communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Above all, we need to build resilience, while addressing economic and social inequality.
In the midst of a disaster every person makes a choice-- to help or to hurt.
In every hurricane, typhoon, earthquake, conflict or refugee crisis there are stories of solidarity. Our hearts are warmed by the heroes and heroines that save lives, share all they have, organize with one another to survive together.
And yet, in every disaster, we are confronted with abuses of power that foster fear and remove or violate the rights of the victims. Take the stadium during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as an example, where thousands of innocent victims of this natural disaster had their basic human rights violated.
But this is exactly what is happening in our society today. Those that have chosen the "politics of the armed lifeboat" are fostering fear by blaming the Syrian refugee crisis, which has its roots in the climate crisis, and acts of terror and violence linked to ISIS. And they’re calling for our borders to be closed and walls to be built. Internment camps, the stripping of rights of innocent victims of conflict and the climate, military enforced curfews and the complete closure of civil society space are all on the table.
In Paris, to rally for the planet has become a criminal act, as non-violent advocates are dragged away from speaking in public about the need for a global climate deal that will protect the world’s most vulnerable people. If the Paris climate agreement stands, and the world heats to disastrous levels, these same leaders are likely to pour much more money than what’s needed to fix the climate crisis into what the Pentagon calls "militarized adaptation."
But it’s not all bad news
When the French shut down civil society space in Paris, hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities all over the world to call for climate justice. Speakers at these marches told how climate change is already at play in the poorest countries in the world-- the countries that did the least to create the climate crisis are the hardest hit and have the least capacity to respond.
But countries like the United States that are the biggest climate culprits are still failing to do their fair share to stop disaster. Those raising their voices in the street for climate justice are demanding that we address not only the environmental challenge but do it in a way that is equitable, that transforms power and deepens democracy. They are envisioning a better, safer, healthier world.
But the Paris agreement reflects the global systems of inequality that continue to bolster the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Systems of social inequality also divide the "haves" from the "have nots" based on race, gender and place. If Donald Trump gets his way, we will add religious inequality to this list.
It is this perfect storm that has been brewing through the centuries of colonialism, and the emergence of neo-liberal economics, that has fueled the conflict and forced the crises upon us. In light of this reality, climate justice advocates rightly demand action to address the root causes of these crises. Given the failure of ambition on the part of global leaders, the front lines of the climate struggle will shift from the global stage to the local and national level. In national struggles bolstered by global solidarity, we can raise the bar and get policies in place that will go far beyond what was agreed in Paris-- but it will take creative and popular organizing, strong and committed social movements to make this happen.
Make no mistake, there’s a storm on the horizon. Now is the time to choose if you are going to get into the armed lifeboat and live under an illusion of self-protection, or choose to help everyone survive. At ActionAid we choose international solidarity-- we will welcome the refugees, and work together as people and nations to address inequality, as a way to wage peace and transform power.