The end of fossil fuels has begun
World leaders at the UN climate talks have just set a landmark goal that can save everything we love! This is what we marched for, what we signed, called, donated, messaged, and hoped for: a brilliant and massive turning point in human history.
It’s called net-zero human emissions - a balancing of what we release into the air and what is taken out -- and when the dust settles and the Paris Agreement is in the hands of lawmakers, clean energy will be the best, cheapest, and most effective way to keep their promise. This gives us the platform we need to realize the dream of a safe future for generations!
Out of great crises, humanity has borne beautiful visions. World War II gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an enduring standard for our spirit and capacity as one people. The fall of Apartheid led South Africa to the single most bold and progressive constitution in the world.
Ambitious visions like these rely on movements to carry them into the mainstream, and on movements to make them reality in our everyday lives. Today is no exception:
In the last weeks, our community has played an extraordinary role to help push through this historic deal. After we smashed global records, marching in the hundreds of thousands all over the globe, we brought our voices into the summit -- literally -- with a chorus of members’ personal messages as delegates entered, Avaaz staff then delivered our petition directly to the UN Secretary-General, kicking off an incredible string of campaigns.
From the starting gun to the finishing line of these talks, every time a government blocked progress, we responded, and when they led the way, we heralded them. Our community has called our leaders to go further in 45 different actions in just 14 days. And we had incredible impact.
After the Indian Finance Minister came out against 100% clean energy, Avaazers filmed Chennai under water and it was projected with messages from across India on a screen inside the talks. A day later the media announced Modi had changed course and said, "So what has brought about this U-turn?... A video with interviews of Chennai flood survivors was played out on giant projector screens inside the venue of climate change talks."
And that was just the beginning -- our marches, messages, and video appeals were played on loop outside of the main negotiation room. Heads of state, ministers, and all of their staff were reminded of us and our calls to action every day.
Then, after we plastered Paris with posters of the faces of the worst fossil fuel lobbyists and climate deniers, calling on ministers to ignore them, the lobbyist for the world's largest mining company withdrew from the talks altogether!
When it became apparent Argentina and Saudi Arabia were major blockers, Avaaz members in both regions went into urgent action, and we were all over the media. In Argentina, the newly elected President, who had committed to renewable energy, was inundated with messages to send a delegation to Paris. And within days they came. The Saudi government was so worried by the public attention that a lawyer representing the Kingdom called our staff to say they would sue.
And just a few hours ago, the German minister personally thanked Avaaz members for making her and her delegation feel consistently supported throughout the negotiations.
But probably the single most effective thing our community did was raising hundreds of thousands to support a strong Marshall Islands presence at the talks. Their Minister has became one of the heroes of Paris -- announcing a High Ambition Coalition that cut through the toxic North / South divide, and got 100 countries to work together.
When they called for others to join them, Avaazers launched campaigns and started texting the delegates of big emerging economies -- within hours Brazil responded to Avaaz staff, and 48 hours later they joined the High Ambition Coalition, too.
And that's just a few of the amazing campaigns we rallied around in this short time!
Everyone expected failure from the climate conference process. Leaders told Avaaz staff over and over again, "people don't care about climate change". But we knew better. We knew this community of millions consistently chose saving our planet as a key priority for our work together, year after year.
Since 2007 -- in Bali, Copenhagen, at G7 summits, in key capitals, and now in Paris -- this is how we helped show leaders how wrong they were:
Winning the path in Bali (2007): Our movement's journey on climate began in Bali eight years ago, when Avaazers sent thousands of messages to blocker countries and funded a newspaper ad that Japan’s largest newspaper credited with changing the government’s position. Together, we helped push leaders to agree to a roadmap that paved the way for Copenhagen's big climate talks and the eventual deal in Paris.
"The elephant is moving" (2008-09): For a whole year, our community put everything on hold to focus on the Copenhagen Summit -- spearheading hundreds of vigils and rallies around the world, making hundreds of thousands of calls to decision-makers, delivering millions of petition signatures, and leading a Global Wake-Up Call to presidents and prime ministers. Leaders failed to make history, but as one Avaaz member put it: "the elephant began to move, and when an elephant starts moving, it's hard to stop..."