Earth to Congress: Don’t Muck it Up!


December 9, 2015

There’s no time to be delicate here. From the world’s biggest people’s climate movement ever to businesses making significant commitments to reduce their emissions, and developing countries pushing for financial support for loss and damage and adaptation, we’re seeing some real momentum at the Paris UN Climate Conference (COP21). We’re on our way to getting an agreement in Paris that will be an important step towards tackling climate change— so why is Congress trying to derail all the progress?

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It started right at home, when Congress voted to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the US Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) that would, for the first time ever, limit dangerous carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. What kind of sense does that make, especially when polls show that two thirds of Americans support a strong outcome in Paris?

In Paris, talks are turning toward the subject of climate justice, the reality that climate change disproportionately impacts developing countries and poor communities around the world. Now, one of the biggest issues to address is how to finance developing nations to leapfrog dirty energy sources of the past, and move directly into clean energy economies of the future. It’s critical that developing countries have the support and assistance of the richest countries so they can transition to a clean energy future without sacrificing economic development that lifts their citizens out of poverty.

An important building block of a COP21 agreement in Paris is the the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which has committed a total of $100 billion a year to the developing world by 2020 to assist with climate change mitigation and adaptation.  President Obama has made an initial pledge of $3 billion, but Congress is threatening to oppose the US’s commitment to the developing world, which is not helpful to the process here in Paris as negotiators attempt to craft an agreement.

We think it’s a bad idea for Congress to be mucking up the most meaningful attempt to combat climate change in history. There may be members of Congress who won’t admit that humans are causing global warming, but the truth is that their ideas are as old and outdated as the fossil fuel energy system we still rely on. We must continue to build a powerful grassroots movement that keeps the heat on Congress. Like our friend Bill McKibben told us the other day, “there’s more work to be done.” So let’s get to work!