“Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, since what is at stake is the future of the planet, the future of life,” – François Hollande, President of France
“Let us listen to the voices of our people, the public actions, marches that have been organized in solidarity against Climate Change. Equally important, let us listen to our conscience — we all have one. For our people have spoken. Do we forsake them to satisfy the interests of a very few, or de we take a stand now as global and moral leaders?” – Beretitenti Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati
“Everything I know, and everyone I love, is in the hands of all of us gathered here today. We are already limping from climate disaster to climate disaster, and we know there is worse to come. For us, COP21 must be a turning point in history, and one that gives us hope.” – Christopher Loeak, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
“COP21 must be the turning point in our efforts to transform the global economy and make the transition to low-emissions societies. That is what the world expects of us. And that is why we have come to Paris.” – Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
“Let’s just imagine for a moment what we would have to say to our grandchildren if we failed. We would have to say, it was all too difficult.” David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
“Over the next few days, we will decide the fate of this planet. We do so when the consequences of the industrial age powered by fossil fuel are evident, especially on the lives of the poor.” – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
“The science is indisputable, and tells us that our planet is already changing in ways that will have profound impacts on our future…We have an opportunity to make history in Paris – an agreement that supports a transition to a low-carbon economy that is necessary for our collective health, security, and prosperity.” Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“I believe, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that there is such a thing as being too late. And when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, if we act now, if we place our own short-term interests behind the air that our young people will breathe, and the food that they will eat, and the water that they will drink, and the hopes and dreams that sustain their lives, then we won’t be too late for them.” – Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
One week ago today, these words echoed through the halls and corridors of the Le Bourget conference center, along with the words of many others.
One week ago today, 150 world leaders came to Paris making grand calls and impressive pledges for action on climate change.
One week ago today, leaders from small island nations and vulnerable countries demanded their very nations be saved from inundation and annihilation while leaders from rich countries stood up and committed to take much-needed action.
And now, today in Paris, high level representatives come together to do the work towards living up to those statements and making the new world these leaders described a reality. They meet at a time when the climate movement has grown to new strengths and have notched wins upon wins. They meet at a time when nations are stressed by growing impacts, and the fossil fuel industry flails to keep their market share.
The Ministers gathered in Paris this week have a choice to make. Will they bring truth to the words of their Presidents and Prime Ministers, or will they resort to standard debates and business as usual negotiations? Will they Stop Funding Fossils, Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground and join the movement in implementing solutions, or will they bow to industry and continue the status quo that’s leading us to climate chaos?
In short, the question this week boils down to this: Will Ministers make liars of their Heads of State? We’ll know in just a few short days.
But what we know now is this: Whether liars or heroes, capitulators or dreamers, the Ministers gathered here in Paris are only half of the story. The other half, perhaps more important even, is outside, on the streets, in cities and communities around the world. The climate justice movement has truly become a force, and regardless of the outcome here in Paris, that won’t change. They’ll continue stopping pipelines, shutting down mines, and filling rooftops with solar panels. They’ll continue taking politicians to task and building resilient and resistant communities.
What happens in the next few days in Paris will show the world where politicians truly stand in the climate crisis. We already know where the rest of us are headed.