Saturday, March 24, 2007

Online Petition Re: Climate Change

I suppose I take a rather un-nuanced view of environment and global warming or climate change or whatever the heck it's called. There are a lot of people coming out of the woodwork these days to criticize David Suzuki and even my dark-horse saviour of the Democrats Al Gore. Junk science, they say. A bunch of bureaucrats pushing an agenda, they say. A con job, they say.

I don't really know. Here's what I know. It doesn't seem right that we can keep pulling shit out of the earth's bowels and then burning it and pouring it into the earth's lungs at the rate we've been doing, and expecting to increase this besides. Is man affecting the environment? Hell yes! So we probably need to be doing something about it.

Having said that, I get emails. Yes, Larry doesn't have much to do with online petitions. But he's pushed this group before. So one more time...

Dear friends,

Last week, Avaaz campaigners hand-delivered our 100,000-signature climate change petition to the environment ministers of the world's most polluting countries. It worked. The chair of the meeting waved the petition in the air, calling on his fellow ministers to act--and they agreed that climate change would be the #1 issue at the G8 summit in June.

The momentum is on our side. Let's build on it. Next Tuesday, another high-level group will meet to move forward with G8 planning -- and we can keep the focus on the climate issue by showing that the call for action is growing. Can you help us reach our ambitious goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday by forwarding this email to ten friends? Your friends can sign the petition here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/climate_action_g8

Here's how our campaigner Iain Keith, who presented the petition, describes his experience:

When my turn came to speak to the Environment ministers, I was so nervous that I thought my voice would quiver. But I wasn't just speaking for myself--I was there on behalf of 100,000 Avaaz members, and I couldn't let them down. I walked to the microphone, took a deep breath, and said, "Dear Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, m y name is Iain Keith and I'm here on behalf of the 1 Million members of Avaaz. Avaaz is a new online community where global citizens can go to take action on the biggest issues facing our world. I have here, in my hands, a petition from our members who would like to tell you that they are scared of climate change, and the lack of action being taken. The countries represented in this room are responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. As ministers of the environment you are in an excellent position to persuade your leaders to make tackling climate change the number one priority for the next G8 summit. Our members humbly request that you accept this petition as a reminder of your responsibilities, and to help persuade your leaders."

I handed the petition to the German environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel. The meeting continued, with speeches on other issues from other organizations. I wondered if all of the work had been worth it.

And then came Minister Gabriel's closing speech.

I could hardly believe it: he was saying that climate change must be the number one priority at the G8 summit. And he was holding our petition.

"Thanks to increased pressure from people around the world," he said, "the tide is turning. When an international NGO can gather this many signatures" (here he holds up the petition), "we cannot ignore this problem anymore... As Environmental ministers, we have a responsibility both to the environment and our voters to make sure our heads of state act!"

And a few days later, German Chancellor and G8 President Angela Merkel vowed to put climate change at the top of the agenda for the G8 Leaders Summit.

We did it!!


Iain's right. And we can do even more. Can you forward this email to ten friends, and help us reach our goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday?

http://www.avaaz.org/en/climate_action_g8

It's amazing what can happen when we work together. Thanks for all that you do.

With hope,

Ben, Iain, Ricken, Lee-Sean, Galit, Graziela, and the rest of the Avaaz team

P.S. For a more detailed report of the meeting, including photos, visit the Avaaz blog

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