Off to the Races – and Yes, it is a Race to Paris
The race to Paris and a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is off to a stellar start – last week 400,000 people joined the People’s Climate March in New York, and hundreds of thousands more in 156 countries took to the streets, joining the largest and most powerful climate demonstration in global history.
Friends of the Earth Canada’s team, Terisa Turner and Terran Giacomini report; “Marching together were anti-war activists, unions, migrant workers’ organizations, youth and student groups, women’s organizations, indigenous peoples’ movements, environmentalists and thousands from grassroots communities impacted by climate change. The many thousands of protest signs, chants, songs and artistic displays showed that climate devastation is happening, and that those responsible are the oil corporations, their financiers and large fossil fuel dependent agribusiness companies profiting off the death of the planet.”
Those same responsible corporations were in the spotlight again on the following day when some 3,000 people gathered in the “Flood Wall Street” action. Terisa and Terran say, “ We heard from speakers, most of whom were women and men from the global South, who explained how their communities are seeking to address climate change by localizing economies, ending reliance on capitalist energy and by working together globally to build alternatives to and oppose fossil fuel capitalism.”
On day two, at UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit, more than 120 world leaders1; convened with one head of state after another acknowledging that action on climate change must become their first priority, and that the time for action is now. Germany, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Ethiopia and Iceland moved out in front of the pack with commitments to going carbon neutral by 2050. The world’s largest carbon polluter, China, pledged, for the first time, to take firm action on climate change.
So a big kick off to a fifteen month sprint to save the planet from climate catastrophe. In keeping with the high energy kick-off, companies and mayors and religious communities and more used this three day extravaganza to announce new commitments and initiatives. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability international president, David Cadman said, “Ambitious and pioneering local governments, as government stakeholders of the global climate regime and the closest level of administration to citizens reiterate their commitment to serve for low-carbon, low-emissions, climate resilient sustainable and urban development worldwide. This is their best contribution to the sustainability of People’s Climate and their livelihoods.”
It seems to me that the municipal elections in Canada2 are an early pit stop along the race to Paris, coming on the heels of the Climate March and the UN Climate Summit. Municipalities are responsible for some 75% of global energy consumption and 40-50% of greenhouse gas emissions according to ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.
Can we keep the high energy of the Climate March flowing for the upcoming municipal elections? Will Canada’s newly elected municipal officials play their part in the 15 month race to Paris?
I would be happy to hear from readers regarding their thoughts on these pit stops along the way to Paris.
1 Prime Minister Steven Harper, missing in action from the UN Climate Summit left Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq speaking to a virtually empty room on the margins of the action. Aglukkaq said that “Canada is doing its part’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector and electricity sector and will curb the use of HFCs, a greenhouse gas that was used to replace ozone-depleting gases. Really, this is “our part?” Did anyone say tar sands?
2 Dates for Canadian municipal elections, listed by province, can be found here. Don’t forget to make your vote count!