Paris Agreement: the future is in our hands

| 14th December 2015
While negotiators were reaching their agreement at COP21 in Paris, members of the Upton Community Protection Camp were defending the UK from fracking. They still are. And the fight continues. Photo: Upton Community Protection Camp via Facebook.
While negotiators were reaching their agreement at COP21 in Paris, members of the Upton Community Protection Camp were defending the UK from fracking. They still are. And the fight continues. Photo: Upton Community Protection Camp via Facebook.
The emergence in the Paris Agreement of 1.5C as the global temperature rise the world should aim for is hugely significant, writes Natalie Bennett. But it's up to us, climate activists and ordinary citizens the world over, to make sure it's delivered.
The Paris climate talks were part of an process, a movement towards a just transition to a zero-carbon economy that meets everyone needs on our fragile, damaged planet. That movement needs everyone's involvement, everyone's help.

An international climate conference is a big thing. Tens of thousands of people, thousands of leaflets and papers, hundreds of shuttle buses.

And all too often over the years the results have been negligible a let-down. But this time it's different.

The delegates pouring off the buses with their multi-coloured passes, the all-night negotiating sessions and, perhaps most importantly, the huge groundswell of public pressure for action, produced an agreement.

And that agreement contains one tremendously important figure: 1.5 degrees C. That's the figure that nearly 200 world leaders have agreed we should aim to limit global warming to.

Far more still needs to be done by the Western world to support emerging economies and poorer nations. Future work will have to ensure that action on climate change is delivered equitably across nations, genders, and cultures.

But, by the measure of what was expected prior to Paris, this conference was a huge success.

It's a big deal - really!

Campaigners were expecting us to only end up with a commitment to keep global warming to 2C. That the target of 1.5C is mentioned at all seems nothing short of a miracle. Yes, there's a lot the agreement doesn't say. But 1.5C says a great deal.

It says that the era of fossil fuels is fast drawing to a close, that the two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves that the International Energy Agency says have to stay in the ground will stay in the ground.

It says that we need to provide the technology and the funding for the Global South to leap straight into renewable technologies, to provide the electricity and services required to deliver a decent life for everyone.

Video by Zoe Broughton.

It says that we cannot continue with our current throwaway economy that fails to count carbon emissions and other environmental damage into the price of goods.

It says that we need to transform our industrial agriculture with the principles of agroecology and abandon the destructive, dangerous practice of factory farming animals.

But of course we're talking about governments here - governments comprised of fallible people who might have left Paris in a haze of goodwill, positive intentions and self-congratulations, but who this morning will be getting the calls from the well-funded fossil fuel companies and the multinationals who'd rather see business continue as usual.

It is transformatory - with your help!

And that is where you come in. You - an individual citizen, a voter, a parent and grandparent, a young person looking to your future. The future is in our hands. Everyone can ensure that the 1.5C agreement is met.

Anything you can do to support this global cause will make the difference. It might mean a letter to your MP opposing airport expansion or factory farm. It might be a petition calling for support for renewable energy in your local community. It might mean calling for improved insulation at your elderly neighbour's home. Anything you do today can protect our planet tomorrow.

It might be a tweet of support for the Upton Community Protection Camp, hanging on in the cold and rain on a field near Chester to protect it from fracking. Or a Facebook post backing the fossil fuel divestment campaigners in your university, or your local government area, demanding your community's money.

It might be telling your friends about how we are all of us, each, in Britain, are subsidising fossil fuel production to the tune of £400 a year. Or telling them about how investment in public transport could provide car commuters with a convenient, reliable, affordable alternative to the inconvenient, uncertain, boring option of sitting each workday in traffic jams, breathing unhealthy polluted air.

It might be a commitment to do something every day to protect and strengthen the siren call of that 1.5C. Big or small, public or private, political or practical.

The Paris climate talks were part of an ongoing process, a movement towards a just transition to a zero-carbon economy that meets everyone needs comfortably, reliably, on our fragile, damaged planet.

That movement needs everyone's involvement, everyone's help. And everyone will then benefit.

 


 

Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party of England & Wales.

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