As Coal-Sponsored Climate Summit Opens, Campaigners Declare, 'Business as Usual' Not an Option

Seated indoors and marching through the streets, climate justice campaigners marked the start of the summit known as COP24 with demands to end “business as usual” and for world leaders to commit to measures in line with the urgency of the climate crisis.

“We’re on a fast road to suffering unless we act now,” said Jens Mattias Clausen, the head of Greenpeace’s delegation at the conference. “People are already dying from the impacts of climate change. This is the harsh reality that leaders must confront at COP24. They are the last generation of leaders who still have the time to act. They must put the Paris Agreement to work and ramp up action now. Only through fast, bold change can we alter the course of history.”

Taking place in Katowice, “the heart of Poland’s coal country,” the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change opened on Sunday, and is where delegates will hammer out a roadmap for implementing the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Among the environmental groups attending the conference is the U.S.-based Center for Biological Diversity, which declared, “From California to Katowice, it’s way past time to #KeepItInTheGround.” The group is pointing people to “The People’s Demands for Climate Justice,”  a list which not only demands no more extraction of fossil fuels but also an honoring of “climate finance obligations to developing countries.”

The activists’ demands for bold action were echoed in a statement (pdf) by the president of the last four COPs. Citing the recent IPCC report on the climate crisis, the say that more ambitious action is needed to keep global warming under the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold of warming. “We require deep transformations of our economies and societies to build a better world for all. This must be powered by multilateral cooperation,” they urged.


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