Thousands march ahead of crunch climate talks

22 September 2014

Days before the biggest-ever meeting of world leaders gather for climate talks in New York hundreds of thousands marched around the world to demand climate justice, standing with climate and dirty energy-affected communities worldwide.

However, Friends of the Earth Europe is concerned that the September 23 'talk shop' will only see leaders fiddling with flimsy pledges instead of setting the groundwork for an ambitious international climate agreement

"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. This one-day summit will not deliver any substantial action in the fight against climate change," said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator.

Marching in Brussels on Sunday 21, Susann Scherbarth, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "These talks must listen to the overwhelming will of the people that have been on the streets this weekend. They need to deliver binding commitments on emissions reductions, and meaningfully shift away from fossil fuels towards community-run energy solutions."

The EU is set to announce plans for its climate action at the talks, ahead of its decision on its post-2020 climate and energy policy framework in October. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for three adequate, binding targets on emission reductions, energy savings and renewables.

"It would be embarrassing for the EU to announce its currently weak and meaningless targets while so many heads of states meet in New York," continued Susann Scherbarth. "It is time for them to get serious and make firm commitments in the run-up to next year's crucial decision-making talks in Paris."

The issue is more pressing than ever. 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.

Climate change is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people per year, most of who live in poorer countries.

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 around the world.

Without immediate, adequate action, climate change will certainly get worse and will 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 nations have done the most to cause climate change and must take the lead in solving it, and provide funds to poorer countries. Each fair share to tackle the problem must be based on historical responsibility, capacity to act and access to sustainable development in order to enable a just global transition.

The expected international agreement at UNFCCC in Paris at the end of 2015 needs to be without false solutions such as offsets and in line with what science and social justice demand.

But developed countries' leaders are neglecting their responsibilities to prevent climate catastrophe. Their positions are increasingly driven by the narrow economic and financial interests of wealthy elites, the fossil fuel industry and multinational corporations.

Friends of the Earth Europe supports the call for a Financial Transactions Tax – or Robin Hood Tax – as a source of climate finance. Funds are urgently needed for clean, sustainable community energy and adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

We need clean sustainable renewable community energy - the right for people to have access to energy; to control and own their sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar and sustainable consumption patterns.