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World's Largest NGOs Demand Governments Choose Renewables Over Fossil Fuels at UN Climate Talks

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World's Largest NGOs Demand Governments Choose Renewables Over Fossil Fuels at UN Climate Talks

Climate change is real; it’s happening at an alarming rate and human-activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, are causing it, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in September.

The devastating human face of this tragedy has been on display in the Philippines this week, where one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded made landfall, costing thousands of lives and homes.

At a joint press conference by WWF, Greenpeace, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth (Europe), Oxfam and the International Confederation of Trade Unions, the NGOs called on all leaders in Warsaw they will choose a future without run-away climate change. Photo credit: WWF

Climate impacts are already affecting millions of people across the world in the form of more unpredictable rainfall patterns, more erratic severe and extreme weather, rising sea levels and melting glaciers. This is putting pressure and stress on our farmers and food systems, driving price spikes, food shortages and more hunger.

And many millions more could be affected in the future as homes and communities are destroyed, and our lives and livelihoods are disrupted or lost—unless world leaders take meaningful action against climate change.

So far, governments and business leaders have failed to put the world on a path to sustainable and climate-friendly development for all that stays within ecological limits.

That is why frustrations are rising and civil disobedience is on the increase. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions are at an all-time high. We stand with those, like the Arctic 30, who stood up for the interests of us all by saying no to further fossil fuel extraction.

We, six of the worlds’ largest environmental and development non-government organizations, with the International Trade Union Confederation, make a unified call on governments to act on the findings of the IPCC at the UN Climate Conference in Warsaw and to:

  1. Set and implement 2020 targets for climate pollution cuts that are stronger, not weaker.
  2. Ensure that the finance and technology support promised for the world’s most vulnerable is delivered so that they can adapt to climate impacts.
  3. Create protections for people from the new risks posed by a changed climate (i.e. a meaningful mechanism on Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative) and in the just transition necessary to confront the climate crisis.

If all of these tests are not met, it will represent a tragic failure:

  • A failure by developed country governments to live up to their legal and moral obligations—governments that are undermining this process by consistently negotiating in bad faith and having brought nothing to offer.
  • A failure of developing country governments to defend the needs and rights of their people.
  • A failure by us to successfully amplify the call from ordinary people to do everything in our power to avert the climate crisis.

Warsaw should be a step forward for a just transition, shifting our communities and economies onto a more sustainable path. Governments must start this transition and ensure the decent jobs of a sustainable future are available for all. 

The energy sector is at the forefront of this transition, as it is the main source of climate pollution. Extraction of fossil fuels is also increasingly a driver for the displacement of people, local pollution, water shortage and loss of biodiversity.

At the same time, renewable energy provides a straightforward, proven and increasingly affordable solution (with far fewer direct impacts) that can also bring energy access to the 1.3 billion people currently without power. If we are to follow what the science says, then we have to stop investing in fossil fuels and shift those investments into energy efficiency and sustainable renewable energy. 

Governments at Warsaw should take concrete steps to stop public handouts to dirty energy companies and to support measures such as a globally funded feed in tariff that would bring clean, affordable energy to the world’s poor; and to provide public funding at scale to support desperately needed adaptation efforts; and establish a meaningful mechanism to deal with loss and damage.

We call on all leaders to prove in Warsaw that they will choose clean energy over dirty energy, renewables over fossil fuels, peoples’ needs and desires over corporate interests, and a safe future without run-away climate change.

Signed:

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Confederation of Trade Unions

Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator—Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation, ActionAid International

Samantha Smith, Leader, Global Climate & Energy Initiative, World Wildlife Fund International

Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate, Friends of the Earth (Europe)

Mohamed Adow, Senior Advisor on Climate Change, Christian Aid

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic. 

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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