350, a world climate initiative

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On October 24, thousands of people will take a stand for the climate in over 150 countries to highlight the number 350.Six weeks before the beginning of the Copenhagen Summit, Jacques mirenowicz and Susana Jourdan present the campaign, which the GoodPlanet Foundation supports.

On October 24, thousands of people will take a stand for the climate in over 150 countries to highlight the number 350. From the Great Barrier Reef to the White House and the Himalayan summits right through to Africa, Latin America and Europe, festive events will draw attention to this number, especially in some of the planet’s most symbolic areas.

Le Climat entre nos mains and LaRevueDurable will cover this memorable day in France and Switzerland. It will be the largest climate demonstration that has ever been organised in the world. It will take place six weeks before the start of the Copenhagen Climate Conference (December 7-18) which will be decisive for the future of civilisation.

350 ? This figure which is probably the most important for the future of humanity represents the upper boundary of CO2 concentration in ppm that should not be exceeded for too long if a +2°C increase in the Earth’s surface temperature is to be avoided. Such an increase would make life on Earth impossible.

The first reference to this limit was made in a 2008 Open Atmospheric Science Journal article. With the help of paleoclimatic data in particular, – which shows what happened on Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago – ten climatologists estimated that 350 ppm is the maximum amount of CO2 that should be present in the atmosphere.

To reach such an ambitious target, these climatologists have asked for a moratorium on coal and cheap oil. Because, according to available data, there will be a strong decrease in CO2 emissions when stocks of conventional oil and gas run out in the near future.

The chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, recently endorsed 350. He declared in September 2009 that, “As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations. But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target.”

According to the most recent calculations, stabilizing CO2 concentration at 350 ppm will make it more than 75% likely that the average temperature on Earth will not increase beyond +2°C. For the time being, it looks as though the agreements on the negotiating table in Copenhagen will set a 500 ppm CO2 concentration stabilization target. If this happens, there is 0% chance that temperatures will remain below the said 2°C.

The figure 350 sums up the situation and the climate challenges. It also cuts across the language barrier. It is therefore a very solid base with the necessary assets to encourage enough transnational participation. This will in turn create popular pressure that will be able to overcome the current lack of political will. If all goes well, thanks to thousands of events that will take place all over the world on October 24, this figure – and more importantly, what it represents – will soon be one of the best-known all over the world.

In France, citizens will take part in the initiative. In Briancon (Hautes-Alpes), women will show their solidarity with women in the South during a morning of painting followed by a picnic in Schappe Park. In Montaleau Park in Saucy (Val-de-Marne), the members of a CSA group will form a human 350 by posing with their feet facing the sky and splayed fingers and be silent for 350 seconds in this position.

In the Montbéliard (Doubs) town centre, the “Vergers Vivants” association will press apples from traditional orchards to produce 350 bottles of pasteurised juice. This 350 vintage will be labelled to highlight the importance of short circuits and relocating production to reduce CO2 emissions. In all, about thirty activities have been planned in France so far.

The 350 project is taking advantage of the internet possibilities as much as it can to make information accessible, coordinate and above all, exploit the fruits of this mobilisation. It defines itself as an “Open Source” initiative: each person takes the action they want to take. A person can have a good idea, improve a document, create a nice poster or simply share with others.

Photographs of each of the thousands of gatherings taking place all over the Earth will be posted on the site : www.350.org. This series of images should have the effect of one single powerful world demonstration and the project 350 team will draw the attention of all the negotiators who will meet in Copenhagen to it. It will be as though concerned citizens living on an endangered planet have all sent them postcards.

After meeting Bill McKibben, the American writer who set up the 350 project, LaRevueDurable and Climat entre nos mains were keen to broadcast this campaign in Romandy.

dedicated its 35th issue to climate change and the 350 initiative. This exceptional issue details all the scientific, economic, geopolitical, ethical, legal and simple common sense elements which explain why we should aim to bring the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere back to 350 ppm as soon as possible.

Susana Jourdan and Jacques Mirenowicz are both editors in chief of .

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