The work begins with each of us.
The historic recognition of the right to a healthy environment is proof that we can — that we are — bending the arc of history towards justice.
Such wins demand not only intense effort at the culminating moments, but also decades of slow, steady work from people across movements and around the world. Once achieved, such legal victories can have an immediate impact if we harness the momentum and seize the opportunity. Because we must keep bending the arc.
To meet the challenges we face — as a movement, as a species, as a planet — we must redouble our efforts in the year ahead. We must recognize that humanity is a part of the world not apart from it. We must stop the expansion of fossil fuels, and begin phasing them out to accelerate a just transition. 2024 is the critical year for the global plastics treaty negotiations, and we enter that year with everything we need both still on the table and very much at risk.
With your help, CIEL has been scaling to meet the immense, evolving, and intensifying crises of climate catastrophe, biodiversity collapse, and toxic pollution. Together, we are building a CIEL that is not only changing the world, but also working to increase justice, diversity, inclusion, and equity internally. Because uprooting intersecting systems of oppression demands our effort and dedication in every space we inhabit.
Yet even as we gain momentum, the push for false solutions to the converging planetary crises is accelerating in ways that could compound not only climate change, but also the plastic and pollution crisis and biodiversity loss. The year ahead will demand even greater energy and focus in pushing back against CCS, carbon offsets, and geoengineering. But there is hope. Where once we were a voice in the wilderness warning of the dangers of false solutions, now the overwhelming majority of civil society, and increasingly, human rights institutions, are echoing our calls, which is a sign of profoundly rapid change.
But we still have far to go and far too little time. Bending the arc of history towards justice demands that we convert the momentum of the past year into lasting, systemic change that protects our right to a healthy planet, the rights of future generations, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the rights of nature — all of which transcend borders and demand real political courage. Indeed, it has never been clearer that to achieve our mission — to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society — we must decolonize the law itself. We do that in the courtroom, in the halls of power, in the streets, and in our communities. The work begins with each of us.
Join us in the year ahead to do just that. This moment, and the arc of history, demands nothing less of us.
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