Time to Go to 1.5 Degrees Celsius


December 9, 2015

We’re nearing the end of two jam-packed weeks at the Paris UN Climate Conference (COP21), where negotiators from over 190 countries are up against nothing less than halting runaway climate change. Emissions reductions are on the table, and the, ahem, atmosphere in the Le Bourget conference center is tense with efforts to wrap this thing up by Friday (we proposed a mandatory ice cream break to chill everyone out).


The big news this week: pressure from activists and the most climate-vulnerable countries has actually pushed the talks toward a goal of limiting warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius— down from the 2 degree target agreed to in Copenhagen six years ago. And now, a “high ambition coalition” (formed secretly six months ago) of over 100 developed and developing countries, including the United States, has announced that it will lead the drive to an ambitious, and legally binding, climate agreement!

That’s huge! But there’s still work to be done to ensure that the outcome in Paris is a strong and ambitious agreement. That’s why we need you to sign and share this Avaaz petition right now— for every 10,000 people that sign, the delegations dragging their feet will get an SMS message relaying the reality that the whole world wants them to support a fair transition to 100% clean energy by 2050.

Your participation is more important than ever, because even 2 degrees C of additional warming will imperil millions and millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, who are already facing the impacts of climate change. And the fact that 1.5 degrees is now shaping COP21 discussions reflects the power and momentum of the growing grassroots global movement calling for climate justice. Your voice is being heard!

“There’s a groundswell of grassroots action all over the world, way ahead of federal governments” says US Secretary of State John Kerry at the COP21 on Wednesday, “If a global community cannot come together, we will be responsible for a moral failure of historic consequence.”

Kerry’s speech was important, and the US has joined the “high ambition coalition”, but even with its proposal to double its commitment to financing for developing countries, we’re still shy of the $100 billion a year in support proposed by the Green Climate Fund. And, activists wonder, what specific long-term goals will the US support? With congress committing to muck up Obama’s climate goals, Kerry’s message may be marked “return to sender.”

As Ben & Jerry Social Mission Activism Manager Chris Miller points out, the 1.5 degree target is just one part of a successful deal, “that also requires meaningful progress on adaptation, finance and mitigation.” 

More reasons to back this coalition and urge others to join in. Negotiators have now produced a working draft of the agreement, and as Miller notes, the next 24 hours will be a critical time of winnowing down the document as nations, NGOs and activists jockey for inclusion of their solutions, strategies and commitments into the text. And maybe, with this new coalition in play, COP21 will produce a framework for moving forward together in unity to tackle one of the most urgent issues humanity has ever faced.

Paris is not Copenhagen— in large part due to a people’s movement that is making demands for climate justice heard around the world. Which is why it’s more important than ever that you take action.  

Stay tuned here as we track this latest development, and the culmination of events in here at the COP21!