PARIS: Five years ago, the environment movement was in its heyday as politicians, actors, rock stars and protestors demanded a looming UN summit brake the juggernaut of climate change.
Then came crushing disappointment.
Over-burdened with demands, its draft agreement a minefield of discord, the ballyhooed Copenhagen summit of December 2009 turned out a flop.
Far from hammering out a historic treaty to slash greenhouse gases, nations squabbled and nitpicked for 12 solid days.
At the last minute, leaders from a few dozen big countries cobbled together a face-saving compromise — a hazy vow to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — and activists were distraught.
Now, after a long spell in the wilderness, campaigners are looking to another UN climate summit, in New York on Tuesday, to haul their cause back to centre stage.
The goal is a fresh attempt at the global pact. Based on the 2 C goal, negotiations would conclude in Paris at the end of 2015, and the deal would take effect from 2020.
“The situation today is a window of opportunity,” said Sebastien Blavier of Greenpeace France. “We are getting the machine back on line.”
“This is the right time,” said Mark Kenber of The Climate Group. “We are moving out of recession and the evidence, the science, is more certain every day.”
This Sunday — if activists’ hopes are realised — will see 100,000 people marching on the streets of New York to demand radical climate action.
Two thousand other climate-awareness events are being scheduled around the world, including marches in Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Melbourne, Bogota and Delhi, according to campaign group Avaaz.
The initiative has been backed by a roster of celebrities such as the actors Susan Sarandon, Emma Thompson and William Shatner, musicians Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, and soccer star Lionel Messi.