Hope for Future Generations after Climate Summit

People`s Climate March in New York, Copy Right: World Future Council

People`s Climate March in New York, Copy Right: World Future Council

We said it takes everyone to change everything. And everyone showed up. Last weekend, about 700,000 people from across the globe marched for climate action. We said climate action is a matter of political will. And more than 120 world leaders came to prove their commitment and show leadership. We said we need action, not words. And governments from around the world made their pledges, acknowledging their responsibility and the urgency to act.

Actions and Solutions

The UN Climate Summit was indeed a game changer in the way we approach climate change. Instead of asking why things need to change, we have finally started focusing on the how! It contributed to the growing sense that the fossil fuel era is ending and met Ban Ki-Moon`s goal of creating momentum for an international climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year.

Many leaders, from all regions and all GDP backgrounds, advocated the idea that greenhouse gas emissions should peak before 2020 in order to dramatically reduce emissions thereafter and achieve climate neutrality in the second half of the century. They underlined the crucial role of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency by highlighting their competitiveness, readiness and development benefits.

Countries like Samoa, Tuvalu, Grenada, Costa Rica and Denmark re-emphazised their 100% renewable energy targets while pointing out that this does not compromise economic growth. Rather the opposite is the case, especially for small island states and countries in the Global South .As Grenada`s head of government put it, “100% renewables can be achieved in island states without subsidies.”

In addition, non-state actors, businesses, philanthropic foundations and celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio committed to the 100% renewable energy target, helping to steer the climate change agenda towards solutions and concrete action.

Beyond that, 73 national governments, 11 regional governments and more than 1,000 businesses and investors signalled their support for pricing carbon. Together these leaders represent almost half of the world’s population, 54% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 52% of global GDP.

Accountability and Implementation

With their pledges, commitments and actions, world leaders responded to the people`s call from last weekend. This is an important signal which we all have to build on. Leaders gathered in New York understood that they can no longer act against the will of the people. Civil society and citizens now need to hold their governments accountable to their actions and ensure implementation in the interests of the people, not of business.

As Obama put it in New York, “ We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last one that can do anything about it.” After this summit, we have good reason to hope that we will meet our responsibility to future generations in passing on a livable planet. And as Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands said in the opening ceremony on behalf of civil society, “We deserve to not just survive. We deserve to thrive.”

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014