The following remarks were made at the conclusion of the UN climate talks that formally concluded in Bonn, Germany on Thursday.
This week — and the past few months — have seen an incredible surge of momentum for climate action around the world. Climate action is in the air.
"Much more work to be done, but change is going to come."
People, businesses, faith communities, and even some politicians, are showing that they are ready to turn away from fossil fuels and towards a 100% renewable energy future.I have a three-page list of accomplishments from outside this process, but since there’s limited time, let me share just a few highlights.
First, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is on a winning streak.
Last week, Norway’s $890 billion dollar government pension fund sold close to $9 billion worth of coal investments. In the last month, Oxford University, Edinburgh University, Georgetown University, the insurance company AXA and more, have also made divestment commitments with banks like Crédit Agricole refusing to finance new coal. And campaigns continue to grow at hundreds more institutions around the world.
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Businesses are also moving their money in the right direction. IKEA recently pledged €1 billion euro of climate finance. No offense to rich countries, but if a furniture store is making a €1 billion euro commitment, you could probably up your game.
Some politicians do seem to be getting the message. The mountain air must have been invigorating, because this week the G7 leaders announced an end to the fossil fuel age, agreeing to decarbonize the global economy and transform their energy sectors. While these long-term goals are promising, short-term action is still grossly lacking. In the real world, the only way to match that rhetoric will be for the G7 to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground, while providing the finance and support for others to do the same.
Let’s see the road map to get to this fossil free destination.
Leaders are responding because the public demand for action is undeniable. New data from World Wide Views show that 80% of people around the world are very concerned about climate change. And 68% of citizens think tackling climate change will improve their quality of life. Also, according to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation – 9 out of 10 people want to see leaders take climate action.
That demand will only grow louder over the months ahead.
Just next week, we will welcome the Pope’s climate encyclical, which we expect to issue a clear moral call for action. Soon after, the medical community will weigh in on the health impacts of climate change with the new Lancet commission report.
And the people will keep marching: mobilizations are planned across Europe and around the world. Just this morning, activists with the German group Ende Gelande hosted an action training outside this conference center to prepare for a mass protest of the Rhineland coal mines, the largest source of CO2 emissions in Europe, located just 40km from here in Bonn.
All these actions should send shivers down the spines of the fossil fuel industry. Much more work to be done, but change is going to come. In many places it already has.