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Time flies! We’re already wrapping up the first week at the Paris UN Climate Conference (COP21). Talks out at Le Bourget, the COP21 conference site, have gone on way past midnight, and the report is that there’s been some progress on negotiating the details of the text before Ministers arrive over the weekend. From people taking to the streets around the world, to businesses pledging investments in renewables, to the classic, dare we say, très bien taste of a fresh Parisian croissant, here’s our top six sweet steps forward this week:
1. Largest Ever People’s Climate March
That’s right— the coolest thing about Paris didn’t even happen in Paris. Last year, the 2014 People’s Climate March caught the attention of delegates, leaders, politicians and business leaders around the world when 400,000 people marched the streets of New York City. This year, despite the tragic events in Paris that caused their march to be cancelled, the Global Climate March counted 785,000 people participating in 2,300 actions and events across 175 countries! And when COP21 started, delegates were presented a 3.6 million-signature-strong Avaaz petition pushing for a transition to 100% clean energy by 2050.
This record level of people power has made all the difference between the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP20), and this year’s COP21 in Paris— where the climate movement is being felt by policy makers and negotiators.
2. Largest Gathering of Heads of State, Ever
See a trend here? We’re talking about scale, and momentum. When a UN Climate Conference draws the largest gathering of heads of state to date, it means there is the political will to do something real and lasting. They’re here because of climate change, and they’re concerned because we’ve voiced our demands for action louder and clearer than ever. As Bill McKibben told us, now that we’ve got them in the room, we have to keep the pressure up more than ever.
3. Divest Movement Tops $3.4 trillion
Another superlative milestone to add to the list: 350.org announced at COP21 that the global divestment movement jumped nearly $1 trillion since September to include over 500 institutions representing a new record $3.4 trillion. That’s a huge commitment from cities, public institutions, private companies and more to rid their portfolios of investments in fossil fuels— sending oil interests a clear message that business as usual is coming to an end.
4. Businesses Making Strong Commitments
Businesses have shifted from being obstacles of change to actors and facilitators of a transformative clean energy and low carbon future. They are making commitments to cut emissions and invest in renewables consistent with the kind of commitments countries are making, instituting internal carbon taxes and inspiring fans to take part and take action. What can we say? We’re working hard to do our part, and it feels pretty darn good.
5. Rethinking 2 Degrees Celsius
The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) represent a major move in the right direction: 150 nations, representing 95% of global emissions, pledging to reduce their levels of carbon pollution. But even as the pledges are totaled, and found to be short of what’s needed to keep warming below 2ºC, those most vulnerable are stepping up to propose an even more ambitious long term goal of 1.5ºC. These developing and small island nations are already facing the worst impacts of climate change, and are standing up for right to exist.
6. BONUS! Parisian Croissants Really Are the Best
Paris is pretty amazing in and of itself: the people, the architecture, the joie de vivre is simply unlike anywhere else. But the pastry? That’s simply next-level. Stuffed with savory ‘jambon fromage’, sweet ‘chocolat pistache’, or just plain and buttery, there’s a bit of revelation in every croissant we’ve tasted. Ask us next week if we’re gotten tired of the food here— you can bet it’ll be a resounding, “non!”
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What does the Queen’s palace and x-rays have to do with climate change? And what on earth is a carbon sink?!