On Wednesday, some 15,000 strong took to the streets of Lima in a people’s climate march to realise a hundred per cent shift to clean energy by 2050.
This, while ministers and their teams were inside the halls of the 20th annual international negotiations on climate change brokering a deal they — those involved in the march — are intent on influencing.
The jury is out on whether they will succeed, but it was important that civil society actors register their position on the issue and in precisely the way they did — visibly and vocally.
“The public call for 100 per cent clean energy has gone mainstream, and finally leaders are starting to respond with ambitious targets. Now, from Lima to Paris, ministers must defend and deliver what the world needs: firm commitments to totally end carbon pollution,” a seemingly hopeful Avaaz Campaign Director Iain Keith said, in a release to the media, issued in the wake of the march.
Meanwhile, after 10 days of discussions, the consensus among players is that things have been slow going, with mostly baby steps taken on any number of issues in play — from a mechanism on loss and damage to adaptation, technology transfer, Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (country emission commitments), and gender.
Amidst all of that, we have, among other things, seen displays by beautiful and climate-vulnerable indigenous peoples and heard the plea of the youth to act in the collective interest of all.
This, for a secure climate future — one where countries are committed to meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases, which fuel global warming, and where there is adequate and predictable sources of financing for adaptation and capacity building in the developing world.
Still, even as climate impacts, such as flooding and droughts; freshwater scarcity and ocean acidification; and related injury, poor health, death and poverty remain a clear and present danger — as articulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change — the road to that future is peppered by mine fields.
These minefields are political, social and economic realities facing countries. Still, we solider on — each civil society, political and private sector actor articulating their oftentimes-contending views for debate and, ultimately, a decision.
Certainly, we remain months away from the finalised specifics of a new climate change agreement to be signed in Paris next year. But it is important that the views and positions on the range of issues that people hold dear are given voice and debated on the road to consensus.
If nothing else, the Lima talks, as have previous negotiations, facilitate that.