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Network building for a Renewable future

October 8, 2014, Istanbul – the ancient fabled gateway where Europe meets Asia is the perfect backdrop where around 60 Renewable Energy (RE) advocates, environmentalists, social movements, developmental agencies and activists from all around the world are meeting to talk about the global campaign to shift to Renewable Energy (RE) by 2050, and the role of civil society to achieve this.

For the past 20 years, climate change has killed over half a million people and caused damages worth USD 2.5 trillion in 15,000 climatic events. The Philippines has contributed its fair share to this figure. GermanWatch puts the Philippines as the 4th country most vulnerable to climate change in 2011, and the 3rd in 2012. Global warming is exacerbated by climate change, and human activities (carbon gas emissions) are a main contributor to these changes. The use of coal for our power plants, the use of fossil fuel to run our vehicles contribute to climate change. It is here, and we have to deal with it.

The global shift for countries to RE by 2050 is necessary for our survival. Looking back in the Philippines, despite the Renewable Energy Act, and the rosy picture presented by President Aquino in the UN Climate Meeting in New York last month, our government will be building 26 new coal-fed power plants to come on-line by 2020. We are rich in sunlight and in wind, why are we not tapping into these?

Experts panel on international strategic campaign opportunities - speed up RE use & overcome barriers.

Experts panel on international strategic campaign opportunities – speed up RE use & overcome barriers.

The Climate Action Network – International – a worldwide network of over 900 NGOs in more than 100 countries promoting governmental and individual action to limit human-caused climate change to ecologically sustainable levels called for this workshop, “Building a Network on Solutions Campaigning”, looking at campaigns locally, seeking synergy among these and looking at opportunities for cooperation and joint action. Some 30 NGOs were invited last July, including ICSC specifically to share the Re-Charge Tacloban project and the use Renewable Energy to enhance humanitarian response to typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and furthering development activities. Response to the opportunity to seek global solutions to local actions was overwhelming that sixty groups from Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America are in attendance.

Despite whiffs of pepper spray and tear gas to some of our participants (our meetings are held near Taksim square, the locus for local protests in support of Kurdish fighters in Syria), the somewhat heavy police presence at night, the meeting proceeded.

How can civil society work together in RE, how can we contribute towards achieving the global target of a global shift to RE by 2050? What role could the Climate Action Network play? How can these be linked to other stakeholders? ICSC is one of ten groups sharing local work – a veritable a marketplace of ideas – what are the lessons and what are the opportunities for collaboration. We have several messages – climate change is a global problem requiring action from all, Renewable energy is part of human development and Resiliency (climate-proofing) connects our humanitarian and development approaches as implemented by RE-Charge Tacloban.

There’s a wealth of global technical data, tempered by insights from social movements around RE use. I am heartened by the good stories and clear victories that we can learn from and be invigorated with.

Global shift to RE by 2050…… Imagine, no Meralco. Imagine getting our power from an almost inexhaustible supply – the sun. People might scoff at us and call us a roomful of dreamers. We dream with our eyes wide open, creating steps to achieve this. And as John Lennon sings, you can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

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