Community and grassroots leaders from the United States on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 in Bonn, Germany unveiled a platform at ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) called the “U.S. People’s Delegation” to counter the Trump Administration’s fossil fuel agenda and to hold US states, cities, businesses, and the public accountable to commitments to climate action.
The platform includes youth, indigenous peoples, frontline communities, advocates, and policymakers who have come to Bonn with organisations from across the U.S. They have, according to them, come together to show what climate leadership should look like.
With the Trump Administration rolling back climate protections, expanding fossil fuel development, ramming through dirty infrastructure, and withdrawing the U.S. from its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement, the People’s Delegation and the organisations involved are taking action to protect communities and isolate the Administration by demanding a fossil free future and real climate action on the local level.
Among the demands are:
- A just and equitable transition to 100% renewable energy in all cities and states.
- For U.S. elected officials to step up in meaningful ways to ensure bold climate action in the face of the current Administration’s rollback on climate protections, the persistence of ongoing climate disasters, and the impact of existing inequalities and governmental negligence on frontline and vulnerable communities.
- A halt to all new fossil fuel projects, with the understanding that the fossil fuel industry continues to perpetuate the climate crisis and sow climate denial, creating a bleak future for generations to come.
- A call for all nations to increase their ambition, not decrease it. The commitments countries put forward under the Paris Agreement were already too little, too late and would lead to at least 3.5 degrees of warming, not the 1.5° and 2° goals enshrined in the agreement. We can’t let the US be an excuse for other countries to dial back their action – especially since with cities and states doubling down, the US could be moving forward.
- A demand to stop negotiating cap-and-trade, carbon offsets, carbon pricing, and other market schemes that avoid cutting pollution at the source.
At COP23, while the People’s Delegation is calling for meaningful climate action, the Trump Administration is pushing coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an “answer” to climate change.
The organisations represented in the People’s Delegation include: SustainUS, Sunrise Movement, Indigenous Environmental Network, Global Grassroots Justice Alliance, and the Climate Justice Alliance as part of It Takes Roots, U.S Human Rights Network, Climate Generation, Our Children’s Trust, NextGen America, and 350.org.
Varshini Prakash of SustainUS and Sunrise Movement said, “I have seen climate change-fueled floods destroy lives and livelihoods where my family is from in India. In southern India, thousands of farmers have committed suicide because of drought. Within my lifetime, my home in the States could be underwater if we do nothing to stop climate change. No one should have to live in fear of losing the people that they love or the places that they come from. I’m going to COP23 as part of the People’s Delegation to show that the American people are still in, that we’re ready to fight back against Trump and his regressive policies, and that we refuse to let wealthy CEOs and oil barons lead us down the path of destruction.”
Dallas Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, part of the It Takes Roots delegation said,”We head to COP23 as part of Indigenous Environmental Network and with the U.S. People’s Delegation to continue the to rise up as Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities against extraction, colonialism and to call for real action from elected leaders who have pledged to address climate change.”
Kiran Ooman, a youth plaintiff with Our Children’s Trust, said, “Growing up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States I have witnessed the effects of climate change, from the steady increase in forest fire severity to unnaturally high pollen counts. However, my concern also includes the places where my family live, including India and Florida, where the fatal threat of storms are worsening each year.
“We are working to hold the Trump Administration accountable not only for their inaction but also for the actions they are taking, such as pushing through new fossil fuel infrastructure and cutting back on environmental regulations, which puts the climate and all people of the earth in danger. As young people, we face the consequences of these actions most acutely, and that’s why I’m I’m here at COP 23 with the U.S. People’s Delegation: To remind the international community that despite our youth we are fighting the unjust actions of the US Government, and we need your support in defending our futures.”
Katia R. Avilés Vázquez of Organización Boricuá, representing the It Takes Roots delegation said, “Puerto Rico has been the victim of a perfect storm of natural weather extremes, fiscal austerity measures, bad management and planning, combined with a colonial situation that prevents us from trading and learning from our sister islands in the Caribbean region. Along with the Caribbean, Puerto Rico was hit by two of the largest hurricanes in recorded history within two weeks of each other in the month of September. Organización Boricuá has been working on the frontlines under the most dire conditions of colonialism, corruption, and climate change. We demand a Just Transition.”
Dyanna Jaye, representing ICLEI U.S. Local Governments for Sustainability and Sunrise Movement, said, “Flooding is routine in my coastal Virginia home town; our lands are being slowly reclaimed by the Atlantic Ocean and communities have been forced to flee their homes. From monster hurricanes to the wildfires and deadly heatwaves in the American West, 2017 has shown that the threat of climate change is now. Yet, Trump has allied with fossil fuel CEOs who are dead set on profiting from pollution, including Exxon CEO turned Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. They have no right to represent the American people. Though Trump and his billionaire friends may try to pull us backwards, we, everyday Americans, will keep moving our country forward and make sure our cities, universities, and states take the action we need to stop climate change and create good jobs in our communities.”
Ellen Anderson of Energy Transition Lab, with the Climate Generation delegation said, “We are here to let the world know that most Americans support action on climate change, despite what you hear from Washington. In our state of Minnesota,we are leading the way for the Heartland of America, showing that you can cut carbon, build out renewable energy, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and save money by shifting to a clean energy economy. Our Lt. Governor said to our delegation last week that our state is completely committed to this clean energy transition, and feels the sense of urgency to move forward faster. Our delegation represents academia, educators, and students along with civil society, youth, and indigenous communities, all standing together with the other nations of the world to support and learn from each other how to tackle this existential challenge.”
Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. Communications Manager and coordination of the U.S. People’s Delegation, said, “The U.S. People’s Delegation is at COP23 to share loud and clear the message that communities back home demand a fast and fair transition to a world free of fossil fuels with 100% renewable energy for all. 350.org is proud to be supporting the work of organisations who were already bringing delegations to COP23. Our work collectively as part of the U.S. People’s Delegation is aimed at amplifying the urgency of climate action, holding accountable elected officials who have said they will step up against the Trump Administration to ensure they turn their words into action, and sharing our stories and solutions from diverse communities. We do not have time to waste, we need real climate action now.”