We’re calling on politicians, businesses, and public institutions to “pick up the pace” at the close of this week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

“There’s growing momentum for a fossil free world, but we need to pick up the pace,” said 350.org Executive Director, May Boeve. “We heard a lot of the right commitments this week, but on the wrong timelines. We don’t need action in 2050, we need it now. Rhetoric isn’t going to cut it anymore. We’re going to be pushing hard to turn the promises made this week into real, immediate action on the ground.”

 

The summit was convened by California Governor Jerry Brown to showcase climate action and spur a wave of commitments by actors other than national governments. Hundreds of new commitments and announcements came out of the Summit, but the cumulative action is still far from meeting the 1.5°C target agreed to by world governments.

350.org and allies around the world kicked off the summit week with a major mobilization, Rise for Climate, on 8 September that saw over 900 events in 95 countries, including major marches in Paris, Copenhagen and in San Francisco that brought tens of thousands of people to the streets calling for a fossil free world. Grassroots actions continued throughout the week, with protests targeting California Governor Jerry Brown for his refusal to stop new fossil fuel development, and actions targeting corporations who were attempting to use the summit for greenwash.

“I think the action in the streets clearly eclipsed the talk inside the summit,” said Boeve. “It’s another reminder that real climate leadership is coming from the bottom up. The public is ready for so much more than politicians are offering. The last year of climate disasters has shocked people into action, but sadly, too many decision-makers are still asleep at the wheel.”

 

Activists see their influence in how much of the summit focused on the task of transitioning the world’s economy away from fossil fuels towards 100% renewable energy. Many new cities committed to 100% renewable energy targets as part of the summit: an unprecedented wave of commitments came from East European and Central Asian cities, such as Zhytomyr and Lviv in Ukraine, and Kutaisi, the second largest city of Georgia, as activists and citizens worldwide put pressure on local governments to enable a renewable energy transition in their communities.

The summit also saw a series of bold new fossil fuel divestment commitments. 350.org and a coalition of partners announced on Monday that nearly 1,000 institutions representing $6.4 trillion in capital had committed to divest from fossil fuels. On the same day, New York City and London launched a new global Divest-Invest forum, which will help cities advance fossil fuel divestment and investment in climate solutions. Later in the week, New York City announced that it will be investing $4 billion from its pension funds in climate solutions.

 

“Committing to go fossil free is clearly the new benchmark for climate leadership,” said Boeve. “The most important and high profile commitments at the summit were all focused on the challenge of transitioning from fossil fuels towards 100% renewable energy for all. We’re going to be looking to the UN Climate Talks and future forums like this summit to help build ongoing momentum in that direction. It’s up to our generation to end the era of fossil fuels, and having seen all the public mobilization this last week, I believe we’re up to the challenge.”

As the summit wrapped up, Hurricane Florence was making landfall in North Carolina as a deadly hurricane and super typhoon Mangkhut, 2018’s strongest storm, hit the Philippines, while at least six other large storms were affecting the tropics all over the planet. These climate disasters are a stark reminder that climate change requires everyone to step up their game, to prevent such extreme weather events from becoming even more frequent and more deadly.

 

Looking forward, 350.org and their allies are promising to intensify in the struggle against the fossil fuel industry. They anticipate this October’s release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report on 1.5°C will only strengthen the case for the need to immediately transition away from fossil fuels. And with recent victories, like the win against the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline in Canada, they see momentum on their side.

On Friday night, following the conclusion of the summit in San Francisco, 350.org and Pathway to Paris will be holding a concert to celebrate the momentum towards a fossil free world.

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