10 Million People Petition for Climate Action
As some try to lower expectations about the outcome of the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, public pressure for real action is increasing.
Kumi Naidoo, Wangari Maathai, and youth from around the world deliver the petition. Photo by Robert A. vanWaarden
A staggering 10 million people—and growing—have united in a call for a fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty to be signed by world leaders at the Copenhagen climate negotiations, which opened yesterday.
The petition is the largest climate petition ever delivered and one of the biggest petitions in history, demonstrating the broad support that a climate deal has from citizens of countries from all over the world.
Young people from around the world handed over the petition to the U.N.’s top climate official Yvo de Boer and Danish Climate Minister and President of COP15 Connie Hedegaard, following the leaders' opening press conference on the first day.
The young people held boxes representing the building blocks of a real climate deal and handed over a collection of blocks from the iconic Danish company, Lego, to symbolize the missing element needed for a global deal: public pressure.
Although the number of people that had signed the petition is a staggering figure, what really captivated the crowd was the short speech by Leah Wickham, 24, of Fiji, who spoke about the “hopes and dreams” of the ten million people that had signed the petition. Her heartfelt talk silenced the room. Small island nations like her own, she said, are on the front line of climate change. She pled to the top officials to secure an agreement that would protect her country, her people’s culture and livelihoods, and their very dreams for their children.
The Copenhagen climate treaty, said Wickham, “represents our hopes and dreams for all the generations that will be … Fifty years from now, my children will be raising their own families and it is my biggest hope that they will still be able to call our islands home.” Tearfully, she told of the struggle her people are facing every day but she said that, “In the end, climate change will not discriminate.” As President Nasheed of the Maldives has said, “If the world can't save the Maldives today, it might be too late to save London, New York or Hong Kong tomorrow."
That is why the more than 220 leading civil society organizations from the environmental, development, labor, and health fields have come together as part of the TckTckTck campaign to mobilize people around the world to call for a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty.
Minister Hedegaard said that this petition—and support of the 10 million people that the petition represents—will be the key to holding politicians to their promises to negotiate a deal in Copenhagen. “I think you have made the political price for heading home empty-handed so high that no one will be willing to pay this," she said.
Yvo de Boer responded, “This is not just about U.N. decisions and treaties, this is about people, culture, and countries’ survival. The talking needs to stop and the action needs to begin.“ He closed with what 10 million people had been hoping to hear, saying, “I promise we will deliver on the action.”
Building from this show of public support for climate action, on December 12 millions of people will gather under the banner, “The World Wants A Real Deal,” in what is expected to be the biggest global day of action on climate change in history.
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