Earlier this evening, we shared this bittersweet movement update with our whole email list. You might notice its tone is more serious than usual. With 9 days to go until the Copenhagen climate talks begin, these are very serious times:
We don’t organize events for their own sake–there needs to be a strategy to make them worth your effort, because your time is this movement’s most precious commodity.
Here’s our sense of what will be happening at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, and why we’re hoping some of you will start or join a candlelight vigil at a strategic or iconic location in your community on Dec. 11th or 12th.
The weekend for these vigils falls smack in the middle of the two-week Copenhagen talks. President Obama just announced that he will visit Copenhagen on December 9th–and there’s no doubt that he’ll deliver a rousing and eloquent speech. The following day, December 10th, he’ll go on from Copenhagen to Norway to collect his Nobel prize.
We need to send a signal to say that speeches and prizes are good, but action is what’s really required–enough action to head us back towards 350 parts per million.
Obama will bring an emissions target to the table in Copenhagen, a bittersweet development in this political drama. Sweet because having any sort of commitment from the U.S. increases the chances of global collaboration on a climate deal, bitter because US emissions target represents a paltry 3% reductions below 1990 levels–far from the ambitious cuts scientists say are necessary to get back to 350.
The United States now holds a big key to unlock this process, and we need Obama and the U.S. Congress to turn that key–which is why many of the candlelight vigils will take place at U.S. senate offices, and at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
The timing here is crucial: the vigils are part of a huge mobilization on the weekend of December 12th, mid-way through the negotiations. The climate talks will build to a head a few days later, as our allies and champions–people like President Nasheed of the Maldives–struggle to get a document that represents "a survival pact, not a suicide pact." They have said repeatedly that their survival depends on getting back to 350, and it will help them immensely if delegates from other nations know that back home people are keeping up the pressure and demanding a real deal. I’ll be in Copenhagen on the weekend of December 12th to help organize a vigil with the 350.org team–and my hope is that you can join this effort by organizing a vigil locally.
Click this link to start a local vigil: www.350.org/vigil
Or this link to search for one near you: www.350.org/map
These vigils don’t need to be enormous–a gathering of young people, community members, or faith leaders will be plenty in many cases. Light candles, bring signs, and display any 350 action photos you might have–and consider spelling out a big illuminated 350 somehow. Send a message for your local media to see: after all, they’ll be interested in a local angle on the big international story. This is a symbolic act, but when it comes to making political change, symbolism counts.
Here’s the deal: the huge day of action on October 24 was a tremendous start, and it’s hard to believe that it was only a month ago that you created what’s being called "the most widespread day of political action in history." It took the most important number on earth and made it one of the most well-known.
Copenhagen continues that process–with the whole world paying attention, we need to remind our leaders that we don’t need rhetoric, we need change. Fast.
Bill McKibben, 350.org
P.S. We need to build the movement now more than ever–can you spread the links to the candlelight vigils to at least 35 friends via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. Click the links above to share the movement in 30 seconds with two clicks.