With just less than 100 days until the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, where leaders from more than 190 countries will gather to discuss a potential new agreement on climate change, another group has emerged, hoping to ensure a firm and actionable strategy is achieved. In the latest in a spate of bold calls for action — from groups ranging from religious and business leaders to youth, subnational governments and boybands — archbishop Desmond Tutu, designer Vivienne Westwood, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are among the 100 signatories of a mass call to action at COP21.
The statement — also signed by activists such as Vandana Shiva and Nnimmo Bassey, Filipino diplomat Yeb Saño, and dozens of artists, journalists, scientists and academics — calls for mass mobilization on the scale of the abolition of slavery and anti-apartheid movements to trigger “a great historical shift.”
Their statement appears in the book Crime climatique stop! (Stop Climate Crimes), a collection of essays edited by McKibben’s 350.org and anti-globalization organization Attac France. It reads: “We are at a crossroads. We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely liveable for us ... We know that this implies a great historical shift. We will not wait for states to make it happen. Slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them. Mass mobilizations left political leaders no other choice.”
The group targets corporations and international trade, calling for an end to government subsidies for and global reliance on fossil fuels.
“On the eve of the UN Climate Conference to be held in Paris-Le Bourget, we declare our determination to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This is the only way forward. … We have a unique opportunity to reinvigorate democracy, to dismantle the dominance of corporate political power, to transform radically our modes of production and consumption. Ending the era of fossil fuels is one important step towards the fair and sustainable society we need.”
The group also points the finger at governments, and their vested interest in maintaining business as usual, for leading us to our “precarious” situation – facing global climate-related risks.
“Decades of liberalization of trade and investments have undermined the capacity of states to confront the climate crisis,” the statement reads. “At every stage powerful forces — fossil fuel corporations, agro-business companies, financial institutions, dogmatic economists, skeptics and deniers, and governments in the thrall of these interests — stand in the way or promote false solutions. Ninety companies are responsible for two-thirds of recorded greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Genuine responses to climate change threaten their power and wealth, threatens free market ideology, and threatens the structures and subsidies that support and underwrite them.”
“It’s important for everyone to know that the players at Paris aren’t just government officials and their industry sidekicks. Civil society is going to have its say, and noisily if need be. This is a good first step,” McKibben says.
Stop Climate Crimes is a collection of essays, many published for the first time. In the foreword, Tutu writes: “Reducing our carbon footprint is not just a scientific necessity; it has also emerged as the human rights challenge of our time ... history proves that when human beings walk together in pursuit of a righteous cause, nothing can resist.”
In an essay on how climate change is impacting Africa, Bassey writes: “Temperature rises pose universal problems to the whole world, but more so for Africa. This is so because Africa has 50% higher temperatures than the global average ... burning Africa is what is at stake.”
Others include essays from climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) member Jean Jouzel on the current state of climate science, while Pablo Solòn, former Bolivian ambassador to the UN, diagnoses the failure of the conferences.