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November-December 2010

Vol. 35, No. 6


Climate: 10/10/10 Global Work Party

On Sunday, October 10, thousands of communities around the world celebrated climate solutions by holding "work days" to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through community efforts and to tell their politicians to "get to work" for climate and clean energy solutions. While the international climate change negotiations have not yet resulted in comprehensive global solutions, citizens around the world publicly celebrated their willingness to be part of the solution by showcasing alternative energy, food security and transportation projects (to name a few) that they are already implementing.

Thanks to the partnership of several organizations and coalitions, like 350.org, 1Sky and TckTckTck, the 10/10/10 Global Work Party included over 7,500 events held in 88 countries spotlighting citizen action in response to the climate crisis.

The success of this year's October 10 collective actions was built upon several years of organizing beginning in April 2007 with the "Step it Up" campaign where U.S. citizens in all 50 states came together in over 2,000 organized rallies and other public actions. These actions carried a unified message calling on upon political leaders to take action to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

In 2009 the "Stir It Up" campaign went global. Using the same model of creative activism 350.org was formed to help mobilize over 5,200 actions in 181 countries on October 24, 2009, 45 days before the opening of the International Climate Conference held in Copenhagen. The intent was to convince decision makers attending the Copenhagen meeting that the best target as a cap for a global total of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is 350 parts per million (350ppm).

This is the level that many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments have determined as the safest upper limit for carbon in earth's atmosphere. Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate change effects have led scientists to conclude that we are already well above the safe zone at a current level of 392ppm. These experts agree that unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching a tipping point where the planet begins to experience irreversible effects such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Unfortunately, the Copenhagen conference in 2009 did not yield the results that the world had hoped for. Many analysts say that a number of nations are still not ready to start making serious cuts in their GHG emissions. The United States ranks high on the list of countries with the most work to do. This year the U.S. Congress failed to pass critical climate legislation leaving U.S. negotiators unclear in terms of what the U.S. can actually deliver as the rounds of climate negotiations continue – culminating in an international climate conference in Cancun Mexico (November 29-December 10, 2010; see related story here).

The most recent round of negotiations in preparation for Cancun was held in Tianjin, China the first week of October. Civil society observers reported that deep divisions among nations remain on key issues, like mitigation of GHG emissions and funding to allow less industrialized countries to adapt to climate change. Many of these countries have a high percentage of communities extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In light of the slow pace of the negotiations, the global workday provided a platform for citizens throughout the world to show that there is a growing movement of people committed to solving the climate crisis from bottom up. Their global actions also send a critical message to political leaders and climate negotiators – "we're willing to do our part – now do yours!"

In Tiajin, Christina Figueres, this year's Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and chair of the upcoming negotiations, expressed her personal support to the 10/10/10 Global Work Party highlighting the importance of civil society saying that "when citizens are inspired to take action, it is easier for governments to initiate climate action."

The 350.org, 1Sky and TckTckTck websites feature videos and photos uploaded from people around the world documenting their workday efforts. These include installing solar panels, breaking ground for community gardens, planting trees, constructing wind turbines, setting up and contributing to community recycling efforts and laying out bike paths to name just a few of the workday projects.

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