Other Blog Posts

Amazon fires: a climate disaster

The Amazon, the world’s largest carbon sink and most biodiverse region, is burning. The forest fires are now spreading into virgin forests, deforesting millions of hectares across the region, affecting people's health during a pandemic. Some of our colleagues in the region describe this climate disaster and what urgently needs to be done to recover from it.


Antonio Zambrano Allend, Coordinador, Nacional Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático MOCICC:

During this year, forest fires have increased by 120% throughout Peru, according to the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR).

During the pandemic and the health emergency decreed in the country since March 15, illegal activities have not only not been stopped but have intensified, particularly illegal logging and activities to penetrate and expand the agricultural frontier in the Amazon, which is an additional consequence of the process of internal migration in Peru from Andean peasant communities to the Amazon basin.

This migration, in addition to having been historically promoted by the State, is a direct consequence of the droughts and intense soil erosion generated by climate change in the highlands.

In little more than a decade, Peru has lost more than 2 million hectares of forest in the Amazon basin and the rate of deforestation has reached new peaks in recent years without effective measures being prioritized by the State.


Karla Maass Wolfenson, Asesora LAC - Climate Action Network (CAN):

Es imperativo tomar la ventana de oportunidad del COVID19 para resetear los cimientos de nuestras sociedades hacia una en armonía con los límites planetarios y sobre la base del respecto a los derechos humanos y de la naturaleza.

Los incendios en el Amazonas, avalados por gobernantes indolentes y soberbios, están absolutamente fuera del marco del nuevo pacto socioecológico que se requiere para los desafíos que enfrentamos.

Gobernantes como Bolsonaro quedarán fuera del mapa.

Hemos visto que las empresas, la cooperación internacional, la ciudadania y los diversos actores no estatales apuestan por una reactivación transformadora y eso requiere que los 8 paises con territorio en el Amazonas no solo firmen el Acuerdo de Escazú y desarrollen Pactos, como Leticia, sino que sean operativos y diligentes para restaurar y remediar el ecosistema...por ti, por mi y por los que están por venir.

Juntxs por una reactivación Transformadora, es posible y urgente.

(It is imperative to take the COVID19 window of opportunity to reset the foundations of our societies towards one in harmony with planetary boundaries and human and nature rights.

The fires in the Amazon, endorsed by indolent and arrogant rulers, are absolutely outside the framework of the new socio-ecological pact required.

Rulers like Bolsonaro will be left off the map.

We have seen that companies, international cooperation, citizens, and non-state actors are betting on a transformative recovery and this requires that the 8 countries with Amazon territory not only sign the Ezcazu agreement and develop pacts, like the Leticia Pact, but be operative and diligent in restoring and remedying the ecosystem...for you, for me and for those to come.

It is possible and urgent.)


Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

31 July 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, CAN-Uganda Board Chair

Uganda’s NDCs National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) emphasizes the need to plant trees  as one way of increasing forest coverage which was 21% of total land coverage in Uganda in 1960s, but came down to 14% by 2016. Unabated, the percentage continues to go down.

Ugandan’s Green Growth strategy which is an inclusive low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of natural resources, it focuses on green tourism, water resources management and sustainable use of forests and wetlands, as its key strategic interventions to address Climate Change.

In light of the above, several climate actors have embarked on undertaking actions in this regard. One of the activities of tree planting took place on 19th July, 2020, where  Climate Action Network-Uganda joined the  Kingdom of Buganda through  Busiro County, Undugu Youth Empowerment Group and the Franciscan Missionaries  in Uganda, Save the Planet and Nurturing Uganda,  launched the planting of 5,000 tree seedlings. The launch took place at St.Padre Pio Prayer Centre  - Akright in Wakiso District, about 22 km Kampala – Entebbe Highway with 6 symbolic trees planted.  The planting of the rest of the 5000 tree seedlings, which are of assorted tree species including fruit and indigenous  trees will be done in Busunju in Ssingo County in Central Uganda on a part of the 20 acre piece of land owned by the Franciscan Missionaries, which they have dedicated for tree planting.

In his remarks, John Mary Odoy, the Climate Ambition Ambassador thanked the Undugu Youth Empowerment Group for  donating the seedlings worth five million Uganda shillings, the Buganda Kingdom for the support and promotion of tree planting and re afforestation in Buganda Kingdom and beyond, Save the Planet team and  Nurturing Uganda for the continuous growing and supply of tree seedlings and the  Franciscan Missionaries for committing land to tree planting. John Mary said that the exercise done was in line with global efforts to address the climate crisis and it also corresponds with Uganda’s National framework of getting a greater part of Uganda’s land under tree cover again.  He also said that this is a great contribution to driving Uganda into achieving the 22% emission reduction and control the global temperatures to below 2% degrees delicious by 2030.

Sebwana, Eng.  Charles Kiberu Kisirinza, the Busiro County Chief,  who represented the Kingdom of Buganda reiterated the message by the Kabaka of Buganda that everyone should endeavour to protect and conserve the environment”  He also officially handed over the 5,000 seedlings   to the Franciscan Missionaries in his capacity as the Busiri County Chief (Sebwwana)

Ms Proscovier Vikman, the Chairperson Buganda Environment Board in the Buganda Kingdom and head of Lay Christians at the St Anthony Prayer Group said that the Church is willing to collaborate with any one, organization  or youth group that is addressing challenges of climate change and working towards environment protection and conservation, the church has land and is committed to mobilize members to commit part of their land for indigenous tree planting to restore natural forest cover. The trees planted will bear names as follows; Sebwana (planted by Eng. Charles Kiberu Kisirinza), CAN-Uganda  (planted by John Mary), Pope Francis (planted by Rev. Fr. Godwin Ogam), St. Anthony (planted by Ms Proscovier Vikman), TYE (planted by the Youth) and  St. Padre Pio (Denis Mpanga)


John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda

Email: johnmary.ceon@gmail.com

Mobile phone: +256783457990

Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

24 June, 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, Climate Ambition Ambassador, CAN-Uganda

It is believed that nature only claims what belongs to it and that it severely reacts to an attack and it is also believed that water has a given path on the ground and whenever it rains, it will always take that path to its destination. This is what we are currently observing with the water bodies in Uganda.

Lake Victoria is refilling its parts where it had retreated from and it is regaining its territory. While many may feel and condemn the water, it should not be regarded as an attack. The water is merely going back home, it is reclaiming its space from the man-made shores. Property worth lots of money has been destroyed. Beaches, hotels, residences, landing sites, business houses, gardens/crops, etc have been submerged. Lives have been threatened with the possible outbreak of diseases. People have died.

Ugandas President (Left) and John Mary Odoy (Right) Climate Ambition Ambassador CAN-Uganda at Kitubulu where lake victoria crossed the highway to Entebbe International airport Uganda

Lake Kyoga in the Eastern part of Uganda which is fed partly by the Nile River is also overflowing. Shores on lake Kyoga are now flooding and persons who were living on the landing sites and other areas have been forced to vacate. In several districts along Lake Kyoga like Nakasongola, Kaeramaido, Serere floods have displaced thousands of people. Lake Albert, in Mid northwest of Uganda, has also had its water levels rise due to increased rainfall. The shores have flooded and the majority of the settlements along the lake shores have been closed with over hundreds of households displaced in Ntoroko District.

The rivers on the other hand have also “gone crazy”. The Nile is overflowing and affecting the economic and social setup of the persons living close to it along its route from Jinja city the source of the Nile to its boarders with South Sudan and beyond.

Homestead submerged along the Nile river in Pakwach  North west Uganda

River Nyamwamba in Kasese District southwest of Uganda and other rivers in the area have ravaged the area with fast running water from the mountains and hills. The water came down with much force in large volumes and heavily loaded with rocks, gravel, and all sorts of stuff. It destroyed and virtually erased Kilembe Hospital the largest hospital in the area. Several buildings are on the ground and others badly damaged. Roads have been destroyed and blocked with heavy stones and are impassable.  Over 100,000 people are now homeless.


Buildings of Kilembe Hospital erased by river Nyamwamba floods in Kasese South west Uganda in May 2020

Behind all this is the human factor. Water levels in the lakes have risen fast because of the human activities in and around the lakes and rivers especially environmental degradation including indiscriminate cutting down of forests, encroaching on wetlands/swamps, lakeshores and river banks.  Poor land-use practices have resulted in uncontrollable soil erosion leading to the siltation of the lakes and rivers. The water storage capacities of the lakes and rivers have been badly abused through sand mining and inappropriate farming activities and springing up of unplanned urban areas. Infrastructural developments including roads, roofed buildings, and pavements have created impermeable surfaces in mostly urbanizing areas reducing the ability of water to infiltrate into the soil.

There are lessons to be learned in these circumstances:

  1. Nature/earth is distressed and tired of being traumatized. We must be disciplined, respect nature, and not take creation for granted. It is time to conduct a critical and focused study on nature’s guidelines to be adapted and which must be followed in order for us to live in harmony with it.
  2. While undertaking developments of any nature, a proper and genuine impact assessment must be done by credible persons or groups avoiding a mix of personal motives/agendas and avoiding unprofessional interruptions, influences and work ethics.
  3. Uganda’s Climate ambitions/the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) should emphasize interventions/actions based on reality and future projections based on proper investigations, studies and science.

John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda

Email: johnmary.ceon@gmail.com

Mobile phone: +256783457990

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery - If you missed the Big Shift webinar catch up here!

A Paris-aligned and just recovery to Covid-19 by the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) is a vital part of the global response. On 28th May, members of  the Big Shift Global Coalition organised a webinar to discuss this further with 4 panellists: Bronwen Tucker, OCI; Dileimy Orozco, E3G; Augustine Njamnshi, ACSEA and Andrew Scott, ODI. The discussion was moderated by Vibeka Mair of Responsible Investor. 

Panellists presented views on: MDBs’ track records in energy financing;  recovery packages so far; what a Paris-aligned, just recovery should look like; why this should not include investment in oil and gas and specifically what this should look like in the case of Africa. 

The MDBs and COVID-19 response so far

MDBs and other public finance institutions (National Development Banks, Export Credit Agencies) have a crucial role in the recovery from COVID-19 given its global impact. In a blog the World Bank called for green stimulus and support for energy efficiency and renewable energy and the ADB in a blog  stated that ‘Recovery financing must go into green infrastructure.’ However, apart from the EIB no one has gone beyond talking about this and made it policy and President Malpass of the World Bank has even talked of structural adjustment as part of the response.

MDB financing is still currently in the initial response phase to COVID-19 but even within this current, important stage in spending there are opportunities to ensure resilience. For example, if energy efficiency is integrated then finance to build health facilities could lead to more resilience in the health system.

Dileimy Orozco summarised the role of the MDBs in the COVID-19 response and beyond: ‘The MDBs’ role is – as it has always been - to support countries in not losing sight of their long-term vision, and to build resilience in every aspect of their development’

Why should MDBs implement a just and Paris-aligned recovery?

The Big Shift Campaign holds the main MDBs to account in their commitment to the Paris Agreement and SDG7 on energy access for all. As a result of COVID-19, we already know millions of people have lost their job or suffered a reduction in income. And we know that lower-income, vulnerable and socially marginalised groups have been impacted most – the same people who are most at risk to the impacts of climate change.

We also know that measures implemented now may have long-term consequences for the climate and sustainable development. We need to avoid measures that would lock-in future greenhouse gas emissions or result in stranded assets. 

In her presentation, Bronwen Tucker showed how the main MDBs continue to invest in fossil fuels directly and indirectly through facilities that support fossil fuel projects, financial intermediaries and technical assistance. We saw how a number of banks including the World Bank, the EBRD, the ADB and the IsDB actually increased their investment in oil and gas between the periods of 2013-2015 and 2016-2018.

Yet, as well as the climate risk this poses, Andrew Scott pointed out, investment in oil and gas production also does not necessarily lead to faster economic growth than investment in other sectors, and arguably it leads to fewer jobs than investment in renewable energy. Price volatility remains a threat for higher-cost producers, and global demand is expected to level off and decline within a few years. And the imperative of rapid and steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change suggests we should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

The case of Africa

Augustine Njamnshi presented the specific experience of Africa where he described how the experience of COVID-19 in Africa has ‘made the case for decentralized, participatory renewable energy plus the role of civil society more compelling’ He described how COVID-19 patients are dying due to a lack of energy in most health centres especially in rural communities and also how the drop in oil prices will negatively impact oil dependent economies of Africa hence exposing the volatile nature of the fossil fuel- based economies

Furthermore, COVID-19 has only compounded the effects of climate change which are ever increasing. This includes the reduction in food productions due to climatic conditions which have been aggravated by COVID-19. It is projected that locust invasions in east Africa will be three-fold in mid-2020 hence the situation is not getting any better

So what should a Just, Paris-Aligned Recovery by the MDBs look like?

The webinar touched on a broad range of proposals for a Paris-aligned, just recovery including:

  • MDBs can play a role as investors of first resort helping to build a pipeline of green projects.

  • MDBs will be key for shaping national economic policy and regulation and supporting pro-climate action reform efforts through technical assistance and policy-related lending. To do so they should help countries reframe their economic analysis and planning to drive the required systemic change both globally and domestically.

  • Green stimulus needs to be supported by structural change and MDBs can provide important support through technical assistance and also as thought leaders

  • A just recovery should include debt relief as advocated for by the G20 countries

  • There should be scope to fast track projects which can contribute to Paris Alignment.

  • We could also go further and ask recovery measures to be assessed whether they accelerate climate action.

  • MDBs should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

  • By financing decentralised, participatory energy systems MDBs would guarantee not only security, but also could create jobs in the rural economies

  • Nearly all African countries have renewable energy as part of their NDCs, it is important to prioritize this.

  • MDBs must include effective participation in recovery decision-making. Sustainability of a project is guaranteed when the stakeholders understand their stakes in it

  • Transparency is key and MDBs should be transparent about their assessments of the climate implications of recovery measures.  

As Augustine concluded ‘COVID-19 has taught us a lesson. We can’t continue business as usual. It’s not profit that will help us, it is humanity.’  Members of the Big Shift Coalition will be continuing this conversation and continuing to advocate for Paris-alignment by the MDBs and their financing of a just sustainable recovery

For further information about the webinar – the slides can be found here and a recording of the event here


#BlackLivesMatter - Messages of Solidarity from across the CAN Network

By Tasneem Essop, CAN International Executive Director

We are bearing witness to unprecedented actions by the Trump-led government in the US. The deployment of the military on domestic soil is not only unconstitutional, but also a chilling signal that America is hurtling towards fascism. Trump has, in effect, declared war on his own citizens.

We have witnessed unbelievably violent responses by the police in many cities across the US in reaction to the justified and necessary protests against the horrific murder of George Floyd who was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis. Thousands have been arrested, spurring protests in cities across the world in an important demonstration of global solidarity.

All of this takes place within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is impacting Black and brown communities disproportionately in the US, as it is everywhere else. It has laid bare the fault-lines of poverty and inequality in that country and the world.

The disproportionate burdens that Black and brown people, especially those living in poverty and suffering inequality across the world, face, is also fundamentally a feature of the climate crisis. Those bearing the worst impacts of climate change are not responsible for the cause of the climate crisis. The very systems that have contributed to the climate crisis has systemic racism built into its fabric. This is the climate injustice that we all need to fight against.

While we are struggling to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and while we are fighting racial injustice and autocratic rule in the US and elsewhere, many people are continuing to suffer  the destructive impacts of climate change. The violence of the loss of life, livelihoods, homes and safety is devastating. And yet again, it is mainly Black and brown bodies on the line. We have seen this in the Pacific with cyclone Harold and in Bangladesh and India with Cyclone Amphan. Mega-swarms of locust, heatwaves, floods and landslides are all threatening millions with hunger and conflict and exacerbating the social and economic insecurity caused by the pandemic.

As a network we stand for equity, justice and human rights and we have recognised the fundamental connection between social and climate justice. It is now incumbent on us to express our support for those fighting racial injustice in the US right now, but it is also important for us to reflect the fight against racial injustice and systemic racism in all the work we do on climate, including the way we work, our policy positions and ensuring that our decision-making structures and platforms are inclusive.

We stand in solidarity with all our colleagues and allies in the US during these tragic and turbulent times and call for justice for George Floyd, Ahmad Arbary, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and all other Black and brown women and men who have been subjected to police violence and systemic racism in the US.

Typhoon Vongfong Displaces 150,000 during a Pandemic in the Philippines

"Already stretched having to deal with the devastating effects of Covid-19, the Philippines faced a double whammy when Typhoon Vongfong made landfall on May 15 forcing the mass evacuation of up to 150,000 into emergency shelters.

Having to deal with a humanitarian crisis during a pandemic requiring social distancing was described as complicated. According to Associated Press, rescuers and volunteers had wear face masks and protective suits while evacuation rooms which could previously shelter up to 40 families could only accommodate four families.

Typhoon Vongfong caused an estimated US$43 million in damage and killed five people. Categorised as the first named storm of 2020 season in the West Pacific, it is indicative of more typhoons to come over the year. Extreme weather events (EWE) are not going to take a pause just because a pandemic is raging.

If there is no shift from a carbon-intensive economy globally, EWEs will be a recurring theme in the region of Southeast Asia where four countries – including the Philippines – were listed among the 10 most affected countries according to the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI) for the period 1999-2018. As these events also result in huge economic losses for the countries and region, it makes economic sense for the global community to address the overarching cause of climate change by increasing climate ambition."

- Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator, CAN Southeast Asia


“Typhoon Vongfong is a grim reminder of the harsh climate realities faced by our cities and communities already suffering from a devastating public health crisis and economic uncertainties. We will always face the perils of extreme weather and low-onset events unless we radically shift away from dirty, business-as-usual economic models that put profit over people's well-being and the environment. Climate and public health considerations should always be at the forefront as post-pandemic nations move forward to a new and better normal.”

- Rei Panaligan, President, Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, Philippines


Photo: Philippine Army

Why Indonesia should Raise Climate Ambition

By: Nithi Nesadurai, CAN Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator

If there is one country which raises the profile of Southeast Asia and ASEAN, it is Indonesia. First and foremost, because of its huge geographic spread, population of more than 273 million and membership to G20.

Additionally, as one of the world’s 12 most mega biodiversity countries, it has played a prominent and progressive role in both the Biodiversity and Climate Change convention negotiations hosted by the United Nations.

In its intended nationally determined contributions (INDC), Indonesia had pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26% below the business as usual (BAU) level by 2020 through unilateral actions, and by 41% with international support through bilateral cooperation.

This original NDC target was considered relatively high by Indonesian officials compared to other countries, including industrialised nations. Subsequently, this target was mainstreamed into government policy by the low carbon development strategy developed in 2019 to achieve economic benefits by transitioning to development with a lower carbon footprint.

This led many to look forward to an announcement from the Indonesian Government of raised climate ambition and higher targets in its revised NDC. During a discussion hosted by NDC Partnership on 11 May, senior Indonesian government officials said it was not going to happen because of the adverse economic effects of Covid-19. As a result, Indonesia will retain its original targets of 26% and 41% respectively.

While the pandemic has adversely affected Indonesia’s economy in general, this has resulted in huge reductions in energy-related emissions from the industrial, transportation and commercial building sectors. It would have been an opportune moment for the revised NDC to build on this trend and create a new normal with an enhanced emissions reduction target prioritising renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This would have provided leadership to other ASEAN countries to follow in its path. After all new research1 shows every country in the world would be economically better off if all could agree to strengthen commitments on the climate crisis through international cooperation. Conversely, weak action would lead to steep economic losses and losses of life.


1 Wei, Y., Han, R., Wang, C. et al. Self-preservation strategy for approaching global warming targets in the post-Paris Agreement era. Nat Commun 111624 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15453-z

In 2020, the power of people must defeat failing politics : Tasneem Essop, CAN Executive Director


This blog first appeared as an article on Thomson Reuters Foundation 


We cannot cheer incrementalism when what we need is transformational change

2020 was pitched as a goalpost for climate ambition. A moment when the fog of political apathy would clear and governments moved by the mass strikes, the unwavering evidence from science and a commitment to honest governance would line up to deliver new climate targets that collectively cut global emissions by half by 2030.

There should have been substantial money on the table this year. A cumulation of the $100 billion a year that rich countries owe developing countries in climate finance, as was promised in 2009. 

Developed countries should have fulfilled their pre-2020 emission reduction commitments for an equitable transition to a zero-carbon future.  

By now governments should have agreed to a “loss and damage” funding mechanism as a lifeline of support and a means of justice to those suffering unavoidable climate damages. 

The 20 largest economies in the world should have ceased all new fossil fuel production and phased out harmful subsidies.

Following the debacle of COP25 in Madrid last December where large emitters, backed by the fossil fuel lobby, steadfastly blocked progress we now see them continue their regressive tactics at home. 

The Canadian government, in total violation of its own climate promises, is allowing a 670-km fossil gas pipeline to run through Indigenous people’s land. Japan is set to approve 22 new coal mines that will lock in emissions for decades. The Australian government continues to justify its addiction to coal even as the country is up in flames. The Bolsonaro government has submitted a bill to permit commercial mining on Indigenous people’s land. The United States, one of the largest emitters, has literally left the party but is still eating the cake. 

At the start of 2020, let’s take a moment to condemn the litany of lies and broken promises that have exacerbated this climate and ecological crisis. We grieve the loss of lives, lands, livelihoods and ecosystems that are a direct result of bad faith politics, of putting profit ahead of people especially the most vulnerable people in the global South.

If 2019 comes to be remembered as the year that the climate emergency finally broke through mass consciousness, 2020 must be remembered as the year that we stop shifting the goalposts to accommodate our weak leaders and mobilise the power of people to tip the scales towards lasting change.
It is time to not only hold those in power to account, but to let them feel the consequences of their inaction. Let us understand what is needed to do this and build our collective strength and courage.

We can no longer cheer meaningless incrementalism disguised as climate progress when what is needed is transformational change. There is no excuse to pivot to net-zero 2050 climate targets that defy science and principles of equity without taking immediate decisions to cut emissions at source. 

As we embark into a new era of organising and mobilisation in this ‘decade of climate ambition’, let us ask ourselves what international solidarity really means in a climate crisis. What will it take to tackle the ‘most powerful’ head on? How far are we willing to challenge ourselves in this long arc towards climate justice? How can we become better allies, build stronger and more inclusive networks and sustain each other through periods fraught with inevitable setbacks?   

While the youth and school strikers have had an enormous impact in such a short time, there is a diversity of resistance movements and frontline defenders from around the world to learn from and to learn about

We can begin by unpacking and unlearning assumptions, checking our impulses and privilege and stand ready to cede space and power to new voices and those historically marginalised. It is time to articulate and put into practice a climate activism that straddles social justice and labour movements, that fights racism and inequality and demands the full rights for Indigenous peoples. We must do this without diminishing, tokenizing or appropriating voices and victories from these inter-connected struggles.

Let us acknowledge the complexity of the task ahead and get prepared. Our foes are organised, desperate and willing to hold onto the status quo through any means. Politicians may lie to us and the fossil fuel cartel is frantically recycling misinformation to obfuscate the facts.
Unleashing the power of people in unity, respect and love is a critical responsibility this year. Now is the time to get this right. In 2020 we cannot afford to settle for what is “realistic” we must get what is necessary. 









By Tasneem Essop - CAN Interim Executive Director

The people have spoken. The people are acting. Around the world on Friday, over 4 million marched to demand their leaders take urgent action to respond to the growing climate emergency we face. But the power represented by the climate marchers does so much more than avert climate disaster: it also helps address the social and economic injustice that makes so many hundreds of millions of people so vulnerable to a changing climate. 

We are at a turning point in our response to the climate crisis. As the impacts of a destabilised climate are  frighteningly real, and the scientific and socio-economic case for action becomes overwhelmingly clear, a revolution is beginning that our political leaders can no longer ignore or stop.  

The climate marches, building on the engaged, sustained, energised and organised power on the ground  will force governments and businesses alike to increase their ambition to act or risk becoming irrelevant.   

That increase in ambition is long overdue. Scientists and activists have been warning of a looming climate emergency for years. Frontline and indigineous communities have been fighting for years. Despite these warnings, and despite the warm words and empty commitments of international climate treaties, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. For all the progress in developing low-carbon technology, and bringing down the cost of renewables, little has been done to challenge the power of vested fossil fuel lobbies.  

So what does that increased ambition look like? The science is clear: immediately, all countries must halve their emissions by 2030, set out a clear path of actions that get us to zero or near zero emissions by the middle of the century.  We will need this if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change while recognising that this level of action still only will only reduce risks by 50%.

The first step in this process must be rapid elimination of the use of fossil fuels in power generation, transport, industry and agriculture. Coal – that most polluting energy source – must be phased out first. The fossil fuel industry  must be faced down and brushed aside.   

The rich industrialised world has a moral obligation to both lead this process and to support developing countries with finance as they decarbonise. We are calling for wealthy countries to meet their long-standing obligation of providing $100 billion in climate finance each year, including by doubling their contributions to the UN’s Green Climate Fund this year.  

In addition, the poorest and most vulnerable people, especially women and girls, are facing the greatest impacts from climate change, despite having made almost no contribution to the problem. Rich countries should support the most vulnerable to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change, by providing additional finance of at least $50 billion per year up to 2022. 

But this ambition, these efforts, and the financial flows involved are not just about averting disaster – they also promise enormous progress in promoting development, equality and economic and social justice. According to the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s Report on 1.5 degrees celsius, the measures required to decarbonise the global economy and protect the world’s climate could also – with the right political will and foresight – help us meet the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring a better future for billions around the world. It calls for rapid and radical transformation of our economic, financial, social and political systems.  

For example, the renewables revolution promises to democratise and distribute energy generation, giving resource-poor countries and communities the ability to produce their own energy, and end dependence on fossil fuel companies. It promises to create millions of well-paid jobs, livelihoods and ownership; and, by eliminating local pollution, it will help people live longer, healthier lives, and cut billions of dollars of healthcare costs.  

Protecting and enhancing forests will not only help store and absorb enormous quantities of carbon emissions, it will also help ensure the provision of ecosystem services – such as clean water, clean air, flood control and food security – on which hundreds of millions depend. Creating sustainable transport systems, which combine public transport with walking and cycling, will make our cities more pleasant and liveable, and will generate public health benefits. Adopting an agro-ecological approach to agriculture can increase yields for, and improve the resilience of the world’s food systems.  

The IPCC 1.5°C report sent a clear message that addressing climate change has the potential to also address key sustainable development challenges, contribute to poverty eradication  and help address inequality around the world. This message has not been given sufficient attention by governments, even though they adopted the 1.5 Report. 

Politicians, corporates and all should realise that the momentum that is building around climate action can and must put addressing structural inequality, poverty, and human rights at the center of our plans to address the climate emergency.  

A better world is possible. And the people are ready to fight for it. 


Reflections on the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change

Today 515 investors managing $35 trillion in assets released the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change -  the largest-ever group of investors calling on governments to step up climate ambition. 

Climate Action Network International, aware of the data in the latest IPCC Special Reports on 1.5-degrees Celsius, Land-use and Oceans and the Cryosphere respectively, understands that enhanced NDCs are required. Creating the conditions to make this possible, is crucial. Finance is always key in achieving ambitious targets and when an initiative coming from large investors asks governments to do more, our membership fully backs this call.

For humans as well as the ecosystems that support all life on earth, immediate and decisive climate action is clearly required. Now, from the responsible investors’ side it is as well.

As the statement says, “…the countries and companies that lead in implementing the Paris Agreement and enacting strong climate and low carbon energy policies will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment that will create jobs in industries of the future.” 

The potential bill that tax payers will foot for current inaction will be not only be in terms of climate-related impacts, as extreme or chronic weather events or stranded assets, but also witnessing how some countries will lose competitiveness in the coming new climate economy.

We support the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change and notice that these governments are still on time to make definitive announcements on actions to be taken to articulate coherent policy frameworks steering to sustainable, carbon neutral and climate-resilient societies.

We also demand from the statement’s signatories that they should walk the talk, as some of these investors are still financing fossil fuel corporations enying climate change. 

In addition, they should also announce ambitious “solution side” projects that create the environmentally sustainable assets that responsible investors are looking for.