Today, on Earth Day, more than 165 countries sign a global agreement - Paris Climate Agreement - to protect our environment. This is a record turnout for an international agreement. It is an encouraging sign. After many years of foot-dragging, the world is finally coming together to confront climate change, the most urgent issue of our time.
We are seeing agreement to take action to prevent a climate catastrophe only after many years of hard work. Above all, it is thanks to people all over the world standing up for action. Before the Paris climate summit an estimated 800,000 people marched for a safer climate.
The countries most vulnerable to climate change stood together and demanded that global warming be limited to 1.5 degrees C compared to pre-industrial times. A threshold we must not exceed for the sake of countries in the Pacific and poorer developing countries. Progressive businesses, meanwhile, showed that a 100% renewable future is possible, by committing to go 100% renewable themselves.
This combined pressure resulted in an agreement that sends a clear signal that the age of fossil fuels is ending. An agreement that makes staying within 1.5 degrees C the benchmark against which all decisions by governments and corporations must be based on.
Ultimately it is cooperation and solidarity that we must now deliver to keep the promise of Paris: a safer world, where people share resources rather than fight over them. Paris needs to be the beginning of a fair transition to a world powered by 100% renewable energy. The groundwork has been laid for real action. Renewable energy, for example, accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015. But we still have a long way to go.
As the new Executive Directors of Greenpeace International, we want to drive a revolution in how humanity interacts with nature. And we believe we need a revolution, not just in technology, but in attitudes and lifestyles.
All of us have the tools, the ability and the knowledge to build a sustainable world. We know, because people all over the world are campaigning to make a just economy which respects the reality of environmental limits. We are working hard to further reduce coal consumption in China, we are fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for its peoples and to protect the Arctic, our vital global refrigerator. We know that in a warming world, we need an urgent shift to ecological agriculture and ocean sanctuaries so that life in our oceans can recover from the stresses of higher temperatures, overfishing and pollution.
Solutions are not adopted fast enough because of those few who benefit from the destructive status quo. There are still too many powerful people and corporations who benefit from the spoiling of our global commons.
It is time to end this destruction for private gain, from fishing fleets exploiting the vanishing Arctic ice to European companies supporting the destruction of the Amazon. People are no longer satisfied with governments simply saying they will do something about a problem. They are standing up in growing numbers to make sure governments deliver on their words.
Now is the time to show that we can share the world more equitably, and deliver a decent life for all. It is time for a vision of humanity being part of nature and of cooperating to save the beautiful planet we depend on. This is what we get out of bed for every morning.
It's also why we feel it's important that we at Greenpeace - who vigorously hold polluters to account - show that a more cooperative approach works. We are the first Executive Directors of Greenpeace International to share this post. We do so, not just because it is nice to divide the workload and learn from each other, but because we want to show that cooperation brings real benefits. If we - the two of us - bring out the best in each other, we get a better organisation. If we - all of us - bring out the best in humanity, we get a better world.
So, we welcome that the world is coming together this week to say: “we will fix the climate emergency.” We are truly encouraged by this global response to a global problem.
And, together with all of you, we look forward to ensuring that this is indeed the beginning of something new. The beginning of a renewable era, built on trust and cooperation.
Together, we can ensure that the businesses and investors who continue to put greed before the interests of people and our planet find themselves on the wrong side of history. Together, we can show a better way, with less selfishness and more community.
We hope to meet you on this journey - and travel together over the coming years.
Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid are the Executive Directors of Greenpeace International.