Stand With Paris Wide 06.12.15 © Yann Arthus-Bertrand _ Spectral Q

The Road from Paris Leads to 100% Renewable Energy

It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

– By John Quigley –

The coordinated terrorist attacks that hit Paris and shocked the world last November brought the two major issues of our time—terrorism and climate change— together as never before. Coming just weeks before the most important climate conference in nearly a decade, the attacks had a chilling effect on public expressions that had been planned for months.

Al Gore’s 24-hour Climate Reality Project global broadcast, hosted from Paris and in progress at the time, was shut down just hours after it began. Hundreds of thousands were expected to march on the streets of Paris to call for an urgent action on climate change. But French authorities, desperate to prevent another attack, issued a ban on all large-scale public gatherings, muffling the voices of civil society. There was even talk of whether the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 21) would be postponed or cancelled.

All of this brought into focus the interconnectedness of peace, freedom, and the challenge of climate change that is often forgotten in the global debate. It’s difficult for a society to have a healthy discourse on its future when people are afraid to gather to express themselves and authorities won’t allow it. Perhaps that’s why it resonated so powerfully when a group of 300 people, led by female climate leaders from the Women’s Environment & Development Organization (wedo.org), gathered by the Peace Wall near the Eiffel Tower on December 6 for this historic photo (right).

The people assembled here embodied the message of freedom with a call for 100% renewable energy and lit that proverbial candle for the world. They were not afraid to gather publicly as a free and open society to communicate their demands and aspirations for leaders to act ambitiously for our future. Their courage rippled out around the world on front pages and through a viral social media wave imprinting 100% renewable energy on the Paris climate talks.
While the agreement signed in Paris between 195 nations to combat climate change was historic and significant, it’s still vague and lacks the ambition to truly meet the challenge. The next step is to move aggressively toward a transition to 100% clean renewable energy as quickly as possible (that means no fossil fuels, nuclear, or big hydro). We’re already seeing movement on the local level. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo hosted a summit with 700 mayors from around the world who pledged to be 100% renewable by 2050. Shortly afterward, the San Diego City Council upped the ante by voting unanimously to commit the city to going 100% renewable by 2035.

Clearly, cities will be leading the way. In January the Sierra Club launched the #Readyfor100 campaign challenging 100 cities in the United States to step up and commit to 100% clean energy. A broad coalition of groups is forming to amplify the call. (Go to readyfor100.org to tell your mayor you want your city to commit to 100% clean energy.)
The race is on for the 100% renewable transition. All the old arguments of political and economic feasibility are quickly falling by the wayside. 100% renewable energy is 100% possible and can happen sooner than we think. We need to call on presidential candidates to follow the lead of the cities and commit to the 100% renewable energy goal and support groups and cities working on the local level to achieve this. Perhaps when we look back on the circumstances surrounding this photo shoot in Paris, this image may well indeed be viewed as the dawn of the 100% renewable energy age.

John Quigley (SpectralQ.com) is an international artist, producer, and activist who also serves on the board of the Environmental Media Association (green4ema.org) He along with Magalie Bonneau-Marcil (dancingwithoutborders.org) produced the Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol – 100% Renewable aerial image.

100% renewable energy is 100% possible and can happen sooner than we think.

SpectralQ.com | ema-online.org | dancingwithoutborders.org

Photo: Yann Bertrand + Spectral Q.

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