In the run-up to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris, we forged a coalition of companies, NGOs and academics to speak out their support for climate action. This unprecedented coalition represents the will of the Belgian corporate and civil society to fight climate change and invites the negotiating parties to make an ambitious climate deal.
We started on September 11 by inviting business leaders and civil society organisations at Maison Solvay in Brussels to sign an engagement letter. All parties agreed that the government should target the upper scale of 40-70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The signatories did not only make a commitment to put the climate problem high on the political agenda, but also to take voluntary actions in reducing environmental and carbon footprints action themselves.
To our great joy, we have noticed that this initiative is receiving a lot of support. Since the launch in September, many organisations inside and outside our membership network already joined this coalition. Growing bigger every day, our movement continuously urged the Belgian government to be as ambitious as possible in its climate policy and its negotiating position at the Paris climate summit.
Despite these joined efforts of the corporate world, academics and civil society, the Belgian climate ambition was being blocked by our national politicians’ incapacity to reach an agreement on the burden sharing. Therefore we issued an official statement in French and Dutch, expressing our profound disappointment, which received quite some attention from national media.
This call for action was also reissued by our Co-Executive Officer Sabine Denis during a high-level meeting at the Belgian Embassy in Paris, where our coalition gathered in the run up to the COP 21. Just a few days before the start of the conference, this meeting was one of the rare moments for Belgian Captains of Society and youth delegates to express their view on the climate negotiations.
On the first day of the conference, our country received the international 'Fossil of the Day' Award for its hesitant climate positioning. During the second week of the conference, the Belgian governments finally reached a national agreement which was vital to participate at the international negotiations.
Everyone involved in our growing coalition believes climate change to be the greatest challenge of the 21st century. The Paris conference will be decisive in terms of fine-tuning the global climate agenda and the implementation of the mechanisms required to limit human impact on our environment. An ambitious climate agreement is the only way to guarantee the welfare of future generations. Let’s hope all parties live up to their responsibility and negotiate a fair climate deal for all!