End coal, fossil fuel use, peoples’ groups demand
KATOWICE, Poland — Civil society organizations from all around the world formally launched on Tuesday the “People’s Demands for Climate Justice” to urge countries, governments and private business to keep coal and other fossil fuels in the ground.
The various campaign groups gathered on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as they race against time to lay down the implementation rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The climate talks are being held in the Silesian coal mining region of Poland, whose government recently issued a declaration for “just transition” for its workers who would be affected by the shift away from fossil fuel industries, such as coal mining.
Filipino activist Lidy Nacpil of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development said government representatives must keep in mind that the climate talks should not just be about technicalities.
Not just numbers
“The 1.5 degrees Celsius is not just a number. For us in the Philippines, it is a matter of life and death,” she told the Inquirer. “Sometimes they forget these are not just numbers they are negotiating, but peoples’ lives and the future of our children.”
Without radical commitments and actions to reduce carbon emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C — one of the key components of the 2015 accord—the world may face stronger storms, harsher droughts and coastal flooding as early as 2030, according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The activist groups called on governments to phase out subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and pledge to divest fully from fossil fuels by 2020.
They also rejected “false solutions” to the climate crisis and demanded that rich countries honor their climate finance obligations to developing countries, many of which are the most vulnerable to climate-related risks.
Not aid, but obligation
Harjeet Singh, who leads climate advocacy for ActionAid, said developed nations should remember that climate finance is “not an aid, but an obligation.”
“There is no justice without climate finance … Finance is going to be the deal breaker or maker here and you don’t see the progress happening,” he said.
Nearly 300,000 from 129 countries have signed the “People’s Demand,” which was to be handed over to the UNFCCC secretariat.
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