Harnessing People Power to End the Fossil Era: A Conversation with 350.org

Group of people protesting against climate change issues like loss and damage and fossil fuel

In the run-up to COP28, as global leaders gather to discuss the future of our climate, grassroots movements and climate justice organizations play a critical role in shaping the conversation and ensuring that the voice of the people is not overshadowed by political rhetoric. One such organization is 350.org, a global movement focused on ending the age of fossil fuels. We spoke with Agnes Hall, Campaigns Director at 350.org, a Strategic Ally of GAGGA, to delve deeper into their vision, advocacy, and expectations from COP28.

Agnes Hall, Campaigns Director at 350.org, at COP27
Agnes Hall, Campaigns Director at 350.org, at COP27

350.org’s mandate is clear and unwavering. Their mission is anchored in the belief that a transition from fossil fuels is not just about renewable energy but also about ensuring that justice remains at the core of this shift. “We want a transition that places justice at the heart of its values, ensuring that no one is left behind in the face of the pressing climate crisis,” Agnes shared.

Navigating the complex landscape of COP28, 350.org’s approach is twofold. On one hand, they demand an equitable phase-out of all fossil fuels. On the other hand, they push for an ambitious yearly global Renewable Energy (RE) target of 1.5 Terawatt from 2030 onwards. These demands, while specific, are grounded in a broader context of climate justice. “if you see an action against fossil fuels and calling for RE, you’ll likely come across 350 folk, please join in!” she enthused.

Group of people protesting against climate change
Climate Strike March at COP27 | Image Credit: 350.org

However, the journey through previous COP meetings hasn’t always been smooth. While these summits offer an important platform for international climate dialogue, Agnes highlighted some inherent challenges. “We recognise that COP spaces are not very inclusive, and it can be a painfully disappointing time in terms of COP outcomes,” she reflected. Yet, she also emphasized the silver lining, reminding us that genuine climate action is a continuous process, and the annual COP summits aren’t ‘it’ in terms of spaces we can make a difference and are just a part of this journey.

Person holding placard with "fossil fuel phaseout in the cover decision" written on it

350.org’s strategy also leans on collaborations. The organization sees value in partnering with groups like GAGGA to amplify their impact and collaborate on positions about a just transition which also should be gender-just. GAGGA brings together women’s rights organizations with environmental justice organizations, paving the way to position the organizations together, playing a crucial role to move toward a gender just energy transition. Further, she stressed the essential role of environmental justice organizations in such global dialogues, next to women’s rights organizations. “Environmental justice organizations, as well as other organizations like human rights organizations, do play a critical role. Bringing people power into these somewhat elitist, multilateral spaces is so important, uplifting the voices of people around the world who are suffering the impacts of the climate crisis is crucial,” she asserted.

Group of people protesting against climate change
Peoples Plenary March at COP27 | Image Credit: 350.org

Agnes also shed light on 350.org’s vision beyond COP28. While acknowledging the summit’s importance, she emphasized that 350.org’s commitment goes beyond these annual meetings. They invest in building power and resistance throughout the year, be it through campaigns, activism, or community engagement. “COP is not ‘it’ for us, we campaign all year around. COP is simply where we try to reap the results of our campaigns and organizing work by being present and putting pressure on world leaders with our consistent demand of a just transition off fossil fuels and onto renewable energy,” she concluded.

In a world grappling with climate change, the commitment and zeal of organizations like 350.org, fortified by strategic alliances with groups like GAGGA, light up the path ahead. They serve as a powerful reminder that the journey to a fossil-free world, while challenging, is paved with hope, collaboration, and consistent advocacy efforts.

The Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will be present at COP28 with a delegation between November 30 to December 12, 2023. Join us at our side event “Gender Just Climate Policy & Finance: From Barriers to Actionable Solutions” on Sunday, 3 December, where we delve deep into themes central to this article. For collaboration opportunities and to learn more, please contact Noemi Grütter, GAGGA Co-Coordinator, Advocacy and Collaborations: n.grutter@fondocentroamericano.org. For additional insights around this article and 350.org’s work and to connect directly, reach out to 350.org’s Global Communications Director at global-comms@350.org.

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