Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stripping for the Climate

It's been a tough ending to an amazing two weeks at the COP15. In all-night negotiations, leaders reached a weak agreement in Copenhagen that failed to set the emissions targets needed to prevent catastrophic global warming. The agreement was stronger on funding, but it was not binding, and set no urgent deadline to sign a real climate treaty. Big polluters like China and the US wanted a weak deal, and potential champions like Europe, Brazil and South Africa didn't fight hard enough to stop them.

But while leaders failed to make history, people around the world did. In thousands of vigils, rallies and protests, hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and millions of petition signatures, an unprecedented movement rose to this moment. After hearing the result of the talks, one member from Africa wrote "It takes a lot to get an elephant moving, but when you do it is hard to stop...the elephant is moving..."

Despite the outcome, Copenhagen has built the movement that can win the fight to save our planet.

Outside the venue, every single morning, Greepeace, WWF, Aavaz.com among a host of other activists, made their demands of the world leaders loud and clear.They stripped to bare essentials in the cold as the above picture shows. They distributed coffee and veg sandwiches to the crowds waiting patiently in the snow, to get inside the Bella Centre. They were a very visible presence, which ovbiously rattled the decision makers.

In the last week,they organized thousands of vigils and events in hundreds of countries, multi-million person petitions, and dozens of national phone calling campaigns that made thousands of phone calls. They generated thousands of news articles, organized peaceful petition-reading sit-ins at key government buildings, and ran several high level stunts and events at the summit itself.

The two weeks in Copenhagen saw that the fight to save our planet cannot be won at a single summit. But it was indeed a platform to show what youth activists are capable of, when they worked together as one. This post is to cheer them on to greater success in Mexico one year down the road.

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