We walked out of Warsaw to march forward to Lima and Paris

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EnvironmentWorld-GlobalClimate change

For many years, civil society organisations have been the conscience of the UN climate talks.

Some are more ’institutional’, others are more ’radical’, but we have brought to the negotiations the voices of those who will be affected by climate change, and those who rely on us to find a solution.

Six months ago, in Warsaw, something happened which shook our small world.

For the first time, and in huge numbers, we walked out of the conference.

Why was it unique? Because environmental activists, development groups, trade unions, women’s organisations and many others came together to show the world that we can win this fight by working together – or we can lose by staying alone in our respective corners.

We left Warsaw with a commitment, volveremos*: we would mobilise further, deeper, and come back stronger next time.

Are we delivering? In the past six months, trade unions have done their share when it comes to increasing the visibility and depth of our commitment to climate action.

From the adoption of the trade union Development Platform of the Americas, which carries the most ambitious commitment to integrate environmental challenges to development and prosperity, to the launch of the first ever global trade union campaign on climate action, unions4climate, joined from its very inception by more than fifty national centres and federations, unions are showing that mobilisation and commitment remains a top priority.

On Wednesday in Bonn – the day before World Environment Day – climate talks resumed.

Ministers are meeting to prepare for the Lima Climate Change Conference in December – the last high level event before the COP21 in Paris, where a new agreement has to be agreed in order to save our planet.

And once again, the same coalition of groups who walked out in Warsaw will come together to advance our shared interests. As our declaration says:

“We are back…more determined than ever to fight for the survival of our families, our communities and our peoples across the world …People are waging this fight in various arenas in every corner of the globe, over every dimension of their lives – food, energy, health and security, jobs and livelihoods.”

We know the hardest road lies ahead. On the union front, we still need to become much louder in support of concrete climate policies and in support of sustainable investments, social protection and skills development, amongst other policies.

And in the broader climate movement, there is an urgent need for truly engaged citizens to put political pressure on each and every global leader in the run up to Paris, where all the pledges on climate action must finally become a reality.

We said volveremos when thinking about Lima, it is time now to say on avance** as we head to Paris.


* “We’ll be back” in Spanish
** “We move forward” in French