In the past few years, reactionary politicians across the world have been seizing power with the backing of fossil fuel interests. One of those politicians, Donald Trump, is contemplating attacking international climate action by taking the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Since the Paris agreement was signed, the threats of climate change have become even more clear. 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history (followed by runners-up 2015 and 2014), the polar ice sheets have both seen dire events this year, and superstorms have ravaged communities across the planet.
Backing away from climate action now is immoral, economically counter-productive, and politically foolish.
Here are all the signs of hope that show climate justice is a goal we can achieve — if world leaders commit to serious action, and we stay in the streets demanding it.
Global carbon emissions have stopped growing — now we need to make them decline.
The amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere worldwide has stopped increasing without an economic recession for the first time since records started being kept. It’s not enough to stop the crisis from intensifying, but it’s a sure sign that we can make real and meaningful progress.
Major mobilisations keep happening.
The day after the Paris Agreement was signed, tens of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris telling governments to keep their promises and go even further. That next May there was a wave of escalated actions where tens of thousands of people took the fight directly to coal, oil and gas infrastructure as part of Break Free 2016. And already in 2017 200,000 people marched in record heat in Washington DC and sister marches across the US to demand climate justice in the Peoples Climate March, and hundreds of Global Divestment Mobilisation actions across the globe pushed for divestment from the fossil fuel companies that are wrecking our future.
Coal is in free fall.
The number of planned coal plants worldwide is down by 2/3rds, thanks most of all to a wave of cancellations across Asia. The study that came up with that 2/3rds number is outdated by now too — India just cancelled 14GW worth of planned coal plants, and South Korea’s new government pledged to shut down existing plants and review plans for new ones.
The United Kingdom, which started burning coal in the 1700s managed to use zero coal power for an entire day earlier this year. There’s still a long way to go for the UK to meet its climate goals, but it goes to show that even the mightiest industries can indeed be dethroned.
Electric cars keep switching on, and combustion engines keep turning off.
The government of India says they want every car on the road to be electric powered by 2030, and a new study by a researcher at Stanford University concluded that every new car, truck or bus sold in the year 2025 could be electric powered.
More money is moving out of the fossil fuel industry.
The campaign to divest from coal, oil and gas companies reaches new peaks every year. In 2016, we identified hundreds of investors worth over $5 trillion dollars in total that had moved some or all of their money out of the immoral industry that is wrecking our future. And the momentum hasn’t stopped since then.
China’s emissions are decreasing as investment in solar increases.
The United States is the country that has polluted the most over history, but China is the country with the highest annual emissions — for now. A big investment in solar energy and a reduction of coal pollution means that their annual emissions declined for 3 years running.
Scientists are angry, and they are getting organized.
The March for Science on April 22nd turned into a historic global march to take science seriously. 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, and hundreds of thousands of people marched together to defend that truth, and the value of science to lead us to a better world.
Solar and wind energy now employ more people in the US than coal and gas — and almost 10 million people worldwide.
In fact, the coal industry employs about as many people as the fast food chain Arby’s, while the solar energy industry created more jobs than the coal industry employed in total in 2016. That’s a sign that the economic winds are shifting.
The world’s most climate vulnerable countries are leading the way to 100% renewable energy.
Fiji, Ethiopia and Costa Rica are just three of the more than 47 countries that face the worst impacts of climate change that have pledged to get 100% of their energy from renewable sources. That’s real ambition from the countries that have done the least to cause the problem — and shows the need for the most responsible countries to increase their commitments to action, not back away.
The threat from climate change has never been more real, and more present. But the excuses for inaction are also wearing thin. We have the tools we need to fix this problem, if we can keep the fossil fuel industry from corrupting the institutions that are supposed to protect us from climate change.