People power set to shine for Paris climate summit

27 November 2015

More than 140 world Heads of State will launch two weeks of climate talks in Paris on Monday, expected to deliver an unprecedented but weak global agreement which should come into effect in 2020.

Friends of the Earth International – the world's largest grassroots environmental network – does not have high expectations for the outcome of the 'COP21' United Nations Paris Climate Summit. Its members will be present in Paris to call for a transformation of our energy system. [1]

"Unfortunately, our governments lack ambition. Where is the commitment to urgent action needed to avert irreversible climate change and protect people from its impacts? Based on the proposed text, we can see the Paris agreement will fail to ensure a safe climate or justice for impacted people. This is in stark contrast with the actions of people mobilising around the globe, increasing the resistance to fossil fuel extraction and leading the way towards climate-safe societies," said Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International.

The climate action pledged by countries so far falls well short of what is necessary to avert climate catastrophe. Major developed countries are most responsible for causing climate change, but all of them – including the European Union – are taking much less than their fair share of action to combat it. [2]

Susann Scherbarth, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "We must not believe European political leaders' claims they are pushing for ambitious and fair climate action in Paris. The European Union as a whole has committed to only one fifth of its fair share based on science and on its responsibility and ability to act. The EU must do much more to protect the most vulnerable people on the frontline of climate impacts. Beyond these climate talks European governments must put all their weight behind a democratic, efficient renewable-based energy system and get us off fossil fuels once and for all."

On the eve of the summit, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in some 150 countries. Activists and experts from Friends of the Earth International and its member groups will organise a number of events during the summit and will follow the talks closely. [1]

On December 3 the winners of the 'Pinocchio Climate Awards' will be announced at a ceremony in Paris. Tens of thousands of people have voted for the companies guiltiest of undermining necessary climate action, through lobbying or greenwashing. Nominees include sponsors of the UN climate talks BNP-Paribas, EDF and Engie, who have significant investments in dirty energy, from fossil fuels to nuclear energy. 

On the weekend of December 11-12, thousands of Friends of the Earth supporters will gather in Paris to have the last word on the climate talks. The planned climate justice mobilisations in Paris have had to be modified since the terrorist attacks, but Friends of the Earth is telling its supporters to stick to their plans to come to Paris – or to take action in their home countries – and will be offering creative ways to display people power which comply with new security measures.

Maruška Mileta, of Young Friends of the Earth Europe, added: "People are building a strong and radical climate justice movement which recognizes that climate change is not a single-issue struggle, and that different injustices, ranging from racism and sexism to xenophobia and Islamophobia are a result of a system that is also fueling climate change. Youth are leading the resistance, and this is what the world's politicians will see in Paris and beyond."

Climate change disproportionately affects the poorer nations and the poorest people, who are least responsible for causing it. The world's richest, developed countries are most responsible for climate change, having polluted their way to progress. These nations must urgently make the deepest emission cuts and completely transform their economies and societies to deliver climate and social justice, according to Friends of the Earth International.

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Notes:

[1] Friends of the Earth will judge the Paris summit outcome by 'The People's Test on Climate 2015'.
This unprecedented statement by social movements of climate-impacted communities from the global South as well as faith, labour, environmental, and anti-poverty groups representing tens of millions of people from around the world sets out the minimum needed from the Paris summit COP21.

[2] The 'Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs' report, from climate justice organisations, social movements, faith groups, trade unions, environmental and development organisations, shows that many developing countries are pledging to do more than their 'fair share' to cut emissions while rich countries are dangerously failing to pull their weight. 

[3] Key events for Friends of the Earth during the summit are:
28-29th November – climate marches and rallies around the world
30th November – COP21 climate talks starts, with about 150 world Heads of State
3rd December – Pinocchio Climate Awards
5-6th December – People's Climate Summit in Montreuil, Paris showcasing low-carbon alternatives -
7-11th December – Climate Action Zone -  For five days, this hub of international creativity, which offers popular and contemporary programming, will be a central place for citizen's mobilization
7th December – FoE International side event on People, Rights and Justice
10th December – Paris gathering of global anti-fracking campaigners
11th December –COP21 conference is due to end and international; Friends of the Earth activists 'People.Power.Assembly' gathering with about 2,000 people
12th December – special 'Climate.Justice.Peace' event in the streets of Paris