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Jobs, Justice, and Climate

By Janet Lawson

On December 12th, concerned citizens from all across New England will gather by the bandstand in Boston Common from 1 to 3pm to show their resolve for climate action. The Climate Summit in Paris will have just ended, but no matter what deal is struck by the governments of the 190 attending countries, it will take political will to follow through on those commitments. And it will take political will to build the new clean energy economy and bright future that climate action promises. And that’s why thousands will rally on the Common and why you should be there too.

The Paris Climate Summit is groundbreaking in the history of climate conferences. Right now in Paris, 40,000 diplomats and experts are meeting to determine what is literally the fate of the planet. And, for the first time, virtually all the countries of the world are involved - 190 out of a total of 196. And for the first time, it’s all the countries, not just the developed ones, which are making contributions to solving the problem. When it comes to the atmosphere we really are one world and all in the same boat. Through the Paris Climate Summit, the entire world officially acknowledges that reality and is creating a framework of cooperation for dealing with it. It’s a great victory and a reason for hope, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Reading the vital signs of the planet is cause for alarm. Right now the earth’s atmosphere contains about 40% more heat-trapping CO2 than it did in did in pre-industrial days and the average global temperature is almost 1 degree Celsius higher as a result. Already we are experiencing observable changes for the worse. Limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees has been the world’s red line and yet the agreement in Paris will not meet that goal. It’s better than business-as-usual but still not good enough.

Here’s a quick summary of projected global warming and its consequences:
- Business-as-usual will lead to a 4.5 degrees centigrade rise by 2100 and a completely altered planet where large regions become uninhabitable. Check out the World Bank’s “Turn Down the Heat” report online for the full nightmare scenario.

- Sticking to the pledges made in Paris will result a 3.5 degree C rise by 2100– still a bad outcome but hopefully countries will increase their pledges as the clean energy revolution takes off.

- 2 degrees C is considered “safe” and requires a complete transition from fossil fuels to renewables by 2100.

Whatever global average temperature the world climbs to will be with us for a thousand years and right now is the time when that long-lasting result is being created. Right now! If we meet this challenge the future looks bright. The switch to renewable energy will create enormous benefits to health and security as well as thousands of jobs along the way. If we fail, well, “that way lie dragons……”

INo major social change has taken place without people mobilizing - think of women’s sufferage, civil rights and gay rights. We are at a watershed moment. The climate crisis is the challenge of our time and we are called upon to address it. And that’s why you should go the December 12th Jobs, Justice and Climate Rally on Boston Common.

Janet Lawson is Concord resident, and a member of TriCon Church, the ConcordCAN! Steering Group and 350Mass Metrowest.