Reduce emissions! If not now, when? If not here, where?

June 25, 2015

This month, the Group of Seven (G7) leaders agreed “urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change” and said it was “committed to the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. On 18 June, Pope Francis urged the world in his encyclical ‘Laudato si’ to “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Yesterday, the Hague District Court ordered the Dutch government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020. “The state must do more to reverse the imminent danger caused by climate change, given also its duty to protect and improve the environment,” the court’s ruling said. Even multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell recently admitted: “Yes, climate change is real.” and “The issue is how to balance one moral obligation, energy access for all, against the other: fighting climate change”.

Indeed, all these developments indicate there is a growing global consensus that fossil fuels – primarily for the electricity and transportation sectors – are the leading contributor to human-caused climate change. A powerful alliance of politicians, religious authorities and the people is demanding we move away from fossil fuels, decreasing our carbon footprint and investing in a more sustainable future. However, even the most devastating natural and humanitarian disasters have so far been unable to make us do things differently. No effective mechanism is being implemented to compensate developing countries for the inordinately negative effects climate change has on them despite their relatively small contribution to the global problem. Current policy frameworks for sustainable development based on renewable energy are incapable of pulling us away from fossil fuel subsidies and investments in technologies like fracking, horizontal drilling and coal.

Through our Green and Inclusive Energy campaigns, Hivos pushes for a reform of the current energy system towards a 100% sustainable system. We are creating new renewable energy enterprises and access to energy services that improve livelihoods and social services and boost economic development in remote, poor and marginalised areas. Additionally, Hivos aims to make energy systems and policies more transparent and accountable through the actions of well-informed citizens. However, to quicken this process of change, we need true and fair compensation for those in need. We need policies that are robust. Most importantly, we need significant investments for actual change.

Unfortunately, there is still much reason to be pessimistic about how climate change will continue to impact resource competition, coastal flooding, infrastructure damage and cause the extinction of animal species and indigenous cultures in the future. However, we must build on the momentum created by the many good intentions, inspirational interventions and positive court decisions we have seen recently to encourage and support all who join our global struggle against climate change. This includes respecting and amplifying the rights and voices of the people in the Global South.

Communities, governments, businesses and citizens all play a vital role in our collective ability to combat future challenges. If we really want to change the world for the better, we need much more effort and comprehensive financial support from industrialised countries and wealthy organisations. Only through solid commitments and concrete actions from everyone – and this means you – can we achieve sustainable change. This is our call to action. Will you join us?