During the Paris climate talks: The poorest countries put the richest to shame
There were never more global leaders under one roof than here in Paris at the global climate negotiations on The First Monday of the Summit. And they all talked about leadership, about fixing climate change, about not leaving an uninhabitable planet for our children. Many spoke powerful words. The French president, François Hollande, rightly called coal, oil and gas the energies of the past (he forgot nuclear). And many talked about how renewables are the future.
When Greenpeace started talking about the “carbon budget” that humanity must not exceed, governments were still in denial about the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This year Barack Obama justified rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline with the fact that we cannot burn all fossil fuels we’ve already found, let alone new sources.
This is a start. People power is winning. But there is still no real leadership coming from the major polluters. All of them, whether the US, Germany, China or India, would benefit if they went for a real energy revolution. Not even German chancellor, Angela Merkel - who at least signalled the end of the fossil fuel era in her speech here in Paris - demanded what we really need: governments to commit to 100% renewables for all by 2050.
But there are real leaders here in Paris. And they are standing up for their own and humanity’s survival. On 30 November, 43 of the most vulnerable countries - the countries that will be hardest hit by climate change - called for warming to be limited to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial times - the threshold we must not exceed if many countries in the Pacific and other Least Developed Countries are to survive.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum in their declaration also called for “100% renewable energy production by 2050” and demanded real action and agreed “to strengthen our own national climate actions in order to … help trigger increased commitments from all countries.”
It’s countries like the Philippines, Kiribati and Morocco - the host of next year’s climate negotiations - showing this true leadership. They put richer countries to shame. And it is those wealthier countries which now need to respond to the call by the most vulnerable and offer real support. They should start by triggering those “increased commitments” the vulnerable are demanding; they should commit to 100% renewables for all right here in Paris.
Renewables are the answer. The phase-out of fossil fuels is a necessary precondition for the 100% renewables future we seek. We therefore also support the leadership of the Pacific Island states led by Kiribati who are calling for a stop to all new coal mines now. Coal is in terminal decline worldwide. But it still kills too many people all over the world and needs to phased out as soon as possible. It can be done – solar is already winning the race, including, it appears, in India.
Greenpeace will stand in solidarity with these real leaders throughout COP21, as this climate conference is known. And we will speak out against all polluters. It is nothing but cynical that companies like Engie and EDF are sponsors of this conference. These energy dinosaurs still run coal-fired power plants and are holding the energy revolution back by wasting money on dangerous and expensive nuclear power. We need to kick polluters out of these climate talks.