The following email just went out about our honest take on Cancun. Not on our email list? Click here.
It's not something you hear often when it comes to climate negotiations: "progress has been made."
At 4AM on Saturday morning in Cancun, delegates emerged from the UN negotiations, all of them sleep-deprived and most of them smiling. They had managed to agree on a foundation for future talks. The agreements that came out of Cancun won't be enough to get the world back to 350–but they offer a glimpse at a path forward that just might.
The feeling of momentum emerging from Cancun was refreshing: countries rebuilt trust, and wrestled with difficult issues like deforestation and transparency. This trust was in serious doubt after last year's failed negations in Copenhagen–and even in the final hours of negotiations in Cancun.
These countries will now have to negotiate with the world’s climate–and the physics and chemistry that govern the climate won’t negotiate. In the wake of the modest progress achieved in Cancun, it’s tempting to overlook the fact that delegates mostly avoided the real crux of the negotiations: exactly how much will countries reduce their planet-heating emissions?
In fact, the current pledges contained in the negotiating text are still grossly inadequate, leaving the planet on a crash course with at least 4 degrees Celcius of temperature rise–a terrifying prospect that would put us closer to 750ppm than 350ppm. That’s very far from where we must be, and that that gap won’t be fixed by simply waiting until the next year’s convention in Durban, South Africa.
To close the gap between scientific necessity and political possibility, we must fight the influence of big polluters on the political process. At the end of last week, thousands of you spoke up in support of the most vulnerable countries, sending your messages of solidarity from all corners of the planet. Our team in Cancun delivered your messages directly to the delegates, and reminded them just how much the world is counting on them to stand up to big polluters.
By building a public movement around the climate solutions that science and justice demand, we've helped keep this process alive when major polluters tried to destroy it. We've made the science clear. And thanks to your messages of solidarity, we've strengthened the voices of vulnerable nations, who have pledged to keep the fight for bold climate action alive.
In the months and years to come, that will continue to be our fight as well. In the final hours of the talks in Cancun, members of the 350.org team were among a group of young people who stood peacefully at the entrance to the negotiating halls and slowly counted upwards towards 21,000, the number of deaths attributed to climate related disasters in the first 9 months of this year. After two weeks of abstract negotiations, this event was a poignant reminder of the stakes in this struggle–and of the strength of the bonds of this global network.
There will be those receiving this email who would wish us to condemn the agreements that came out of Cancun — as well as those who might like us to call it a hope-filled victory.
But we didn’t get involved in this movement to condemn or cheer: we got in it to win.
To do that, we’ll have to win our country’s capitols first, and to do that, we’ll have to organize in all the communities where we live. We’ve begun that work, but we still have much more work to do.
We will do it with hope, with passion, and with unwavering determination. And above all, we will do it together.
May Boeve for the 350.org Team
P.S. To get real action from the UN process, it's crucial to keep spreading what happens in these conferences out into the world. If this email resonates, please pass along this link to a photo-tour of our experience in Cancun via Facebook and Twitter.