By now, I suspect, you’ve all heard that the G8 Summit in June did in fact yield the rudiments of a ‘global consensus’ on the need to take inter-governmental action to respond constructively, if not pro-actively, to climate change. Tony Blair and Angela Merkel combined heroically to persuade George Bush of the need for urgent action, the net effect of which remains to be seen. Bush promised the USA would play if, and only if, China and India do likewise. There’s another big confab in Bali in December at which there is at least hope of a more substantive agreement. But there’s also the abiding fear in me that Bush will simply tread water until the end of his term, and try then simply to limit the response options of his successor. This would be ‘true to form’, and I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I include an e-letter I received from a campaign organisation called Avaaz which pays tribute to the effects of grass-roots organising on this subject. It conspicuously enumerates results that it believes it helped to achieve. It also alerts us all to the upcoming Live Earth concerts that will take place on 7/7/07. This is a great opportunity to gather with your friends and enjoy what promises to be a memorable and enjoyable effort at raising consciousness on a global scale. I encourage you all to tune in and get involved in this monumental effort to preserve life on Planet Earth.
It’s working. The G8 agreed to start global negotiations for a new climate change treaty this year. And by taking action together, we – the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who created the biggest global climate petition in history – helped make it happen. These global decisions are influenced by a thousand factors, but we know – from meetings and conversations with key G8 figures – that our voices were heard.
Now the real work begins: making sure that the treaty is strong enough to matter.
We have some spectacular plans in store. First up: on July 7, a global concert called Live Earth, focused on the climate crisis, will reach an estimated two billion people – a third of the world’s population. And Al Gore, a key Live Earth organizer, wants to use this moment to propel the movement to a new level – by joining with Avaaz to organize Live Earth events around the world. Watch for an email next week with more details on how host an event.
(Know someone who might be interested? Remind them to sign the climate petition at http://www.avaaz.org and we’ll let them know about the Live Earth parties.)
We knew stopping a climate catastrophe wouldn’t be easy. We didn’t know if progress was even possible. But look how far we’ve come already:
In February, we ran TV ads on three continents, and brought 100,000 climate signatures to a meeting of the G8 environment ministers. The chair waved our petition in the air, and vowed to make climate change the G8’s top priority. Soon after, G8 President Angela Merkel followed through on the promise.
In the weeks before the G8 summit, as Germany lobbied other governments to support a strong climate deal, President Bush tried to block an agreement entirely. Avaaz members burst into action, pushing the petition to 375,000 signatures in ten days. We brought the petition to Germany’s top G8 negotiator, chair of the talks, with a simple message: stand firm. He promised he would.
During the summit, we talked to top officials in the US, UK, France, and Brazil. We marched peacefully in Germany with banners in eight languages. And finally, last week, the news broke: the G8 had agreed to a UN-led, global process to reach a new climate change agreement.
We didn’t get everything we wanted from the summit – no binding emissions targets. But this is a turning point. Governments are finally starting to listen to their people. It’s a part of the larger movement that Avaaz is helping to create – on issues from Iraq to poverty to human rights – to ensure that global decision-makers cannot ignore global public opinion.
It’s a movement made possible only by the internet, by a sense that our world stands or falls as one, and a shared belief that, together, we can create change.
Now, we turn to the future. The word is spreading. Live Earth is approaching. We’ll contact everyone who has signed the climate change petition about hosting a Live Earth event – so if you know someone who might want to get involved, ask them to sign it now:
Meanwhile, mark your calendar: 7/7/07 will be the next step to save planet earth.
Ben, Paul, Galit, Graziela, Iain, Hannah and the whole Avaaz team
PS: For the full story, check out http://www.avaaz.org.