Obama: You won it, now earn it

Feature story - December 10, 2009
President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway's capital today. In his own words, this is a "call to action" rather than a recognition of his own accomplishments. So we're hoping he'll act on his promises to confront the global challenges of the 21st century. We're hoping he will confront the greatest one in history - climate change. Our activists are greeting him in Oslo and urging him to show strong leadership when he attends the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen next week.

As Obama's plane landed in Oslo, he was greeted by a massive Greenpeace banner next to the runway that read "Our climate, your decision." As he traveled through the Norwegian capital to City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was held, our activists urged him to earn his Nobel Peace Prize by leading the world to a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate treaty in Copenhagen.

Calls to action

Obama Nobel Peace Prize: you won it - now earn it! from Greenpeace on Vimeo.

Several messages were waiting for the new Nobel Laureate throughout Oslo: reverse graffiti (made by pressure-washing stencils) reading "You won it, now earn it," "Change the Politics," and "Stop Climate Change" on public structures; an earth-shaped hot air balloon bearing the slogan "Save the Climate;" a "Next Stop: Copenhagen" banner hanging from the Rainbow Warrior (our ship in Oslo's harbour); and a projection on the City Hall itself reminding the President that it's up to him to save the climate.

Climate and conflict

While we welcome and encourge the President's commitment to working for a world free of nuclear weapons, we call on him to to not only address the weapons of war, but tackle the causes of conflict. Unchecked climate change will herald a new era of resource wars, as fresh water, food production and habitable land all become scarcer.

Averting catastrophic climate change is about many things, it is about justice, it is about equity and it is about opportunity. But, perhaps today of all days we can recognise that it is about peace.

Mr President keep your eyes on the real prize: Peace.

U.S. climate commitments unambitious - U.S. leadership nonexistent.

The US has only agreed to a provisional goal of cutting its greenhouse gas pollution by 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This offer falls dangerously short of the 25-40 percent cut deemed necessary by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of scientists who won the Noble Prize for their work on the issue in 2007.

American negotiators have been proposing a so-called "implementation agreement" that would have pollution cuts by countries aspire to what is politically feasible at home and only subject to domestic enforcement. This form of agreement will not build the trust and transparency within the international community that is so desperately needed to achieve a planet-saving deal. It also runs contrary to the commitment to global cooperation - the very reason why Obama won the Nobel Prize.

The climate negotiations can succeed with the help of a true leader. President Obama, emboldened by the recognition of the Nobel Committee, must tell the world he is willing to sign a deal that is ambitious, fair and legally binding.

What the deal must achieve:

Greenpeace calls on the Copenhagen Climate Summit to agree a multilateral, legally binding deal, which must include:

  • Emissions cuts of 40 percent by 2020 by industrialised countries, using 1990 levels as the baseline
  • 140 billion USD a year from the industrialised world for developing countries to deal with climate impacts, act on climate change and stop deforestation
  • An end of tropical deforestation by 2020.
  • Developing countries must reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30 percent by 2020, with support from industrialised countries.