03 April, 2016
Regardless of where you fall in terms of how progressive a deal was made in Paris, one thing is for certain - an agreement which ensures the whole world is set on transitioning towards a future no longer reliant on carbon, is surely a good thing.
Yes, it has been a long old journey to get to this point, and there have been a number of false starts - most notably the COP in Copenhagen in 2009. However, when we look back at the progress made in the climate justice movement, it's clear that there were many actions at every level (from the grassroots up to the political level), that have lead us to Paris. We're happy that we now have a global plan to address climate change, and here are just a few people that we believe helped get us there!
Bill McKibben, founder and head of 350.org, is responsible for leading the global call for fossil fuel divestment. For many years it appears that people have felt powerless when it comes to climate change, realising that they must go far beyond switching off their lights or not driving to the shops. Instead, we need a fundamental shift in the economy and the divestment movement provides a tangible way to do so. By moving investment out of fossil fuel companies, divestment flips the power dynamics, providing people with a clear call to action and hitting the industry where it hurts the most... their pockets.
Image credit: http://350.org/bill/
Naderev 'Yeb' Sano
Yeb Sano was the lead negotiator for the Philippines at the Doha climate summit. Whilst delivering an emotional plea, he broke down during his speech and declared the world could bear 'no more delays, no more excuses', demonstrating the humanity behind what is usually a dry and bureaucratic process. Witnessing this emotion within that environment brought home the urgency for action within the walls of the UN itself.
Image credit: http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org
Naomi Klein's book (and now film) This Changes Everything, one of the most passionate and accessible books on the climate change movement and really hits home the impact that people power can have. Naomi managed to do what so many have failed to - break down a complex, huge and scary issue into a collection of stories about real people and their struggles to fight for their communities.
Image credit: https://www.transitionnetwork.org
Native American Tribes Fighting Keystone
It was planned for The Keystone Pipeline to cross most of the US, linking the Canadian tar sands with much of America and enabling the movement of 800,000 barrels of oil every day! The proposed pipeline crossed many Native American tribal lands and the unified front from many tribes to protect their ancient lands again showed how grassroots action can stand up to fight corporate power and money. This was only further demonstrated when Keystone was eventually rejected by President Obama last year!
In September 2014, and again in October 2015, the world stood up and marched, urging leaders to take action in Paris. Across the world we saw the largest mobilisation ever, with millions of people taking to the streets to unite around the need to save our planet from climate change. When this many people call for action, leaders have to listen, and we saw exactly this in Paris, proving that people power really does work!