Keeping the pressure on after COP21

The headlines have heralded the new global climate deal – many groups have highlighted the red lines that the text has crossed. Ambition has been the buzzword of the week, but ambition doesn’t entail action.

Once the cameras leave, the news cycle moves on – what then for the coalition? What then for the people who are still threatened by rising sea levels, extreme weather events and the continued dominance of fossil fuel? How will all these words be put into action?

The focus now needs to shift to individual nations. Each country has made a pledge, now each person needs to not only hold their government to it, but push them to do more, faster, better.

So here are four simple things that we can all do to make #ClimateJusticePeace more likely, and to ensure the agreement in Paris makes lasting, meaningful change:

1. Write to your representatives

Governments have made pledges, and they hold a lot of the power and responsibility to make this happen. It’s critical that they don’t see climate change and this agreement as something to be left in Paris: it needs to be (and it is!) a domestic issue.

The more MPs hear about it, the more likely they are to take it seriously. The same with local councils – though they have much less power and budget, there are still things they can do (even if they are more symbolic).

Some issues that you could raise:

  • What is the government doing to meet COP21 promises?
  • How is the government moving us towards 100% renewable energy?
  • Are MPs aware of the link between climate change and a variety of domestic & international issues, such as food security, global poverty and domestic flooding?
  • Where are local councils investing their money – is it in fossil fuel and other unsustainable practices?

2. Use your vote

Linked to the above – climate change and sustainability need to be featuring in local and national elections. It’s not just for Green parties – if we’re serious, every single party needs to have robust, legitimate pledges on climate change and wider environmental sustainability.

Yes, climate justice and its links to human rights & progressive economics don’t usually sit well with the centre-right (or at times the centre-left), but the baseline of the deal needs to be accepted as politically necessary by all parties.

3. Join (or at least regularly donate to) an environmental campaign group

People power is effective, and collective action channels people power and can make significant change – the kind of change that we can’t necessarily make with individual action. There are a lot of fantastic groups globally and locally who are working hard to lobby, research and bring people together – getting involved, even for a few hours every so often, helps lend them legitimacy and strengthens our collective voice.

A few of the more prominent ones include:

but there are loads! Also look out for organisations with local groups (such as Friends of the Earth), where you can get involved closer to home.

4. Talk about it!

I spent a year studying sustainability, and a few years before that working in places where global issues and politics were staple conversation. As I’ve left these bubbles I realize just how far removed things like COP21 actually are from most people’s day-to-day lives and concerns (I realize this won’t be shocking to many of you reading this).

So when the media moves on, we need to find ways to keep the issue relevant and in people’s framing of the world. This might be simply sharing a bit more on social media, the odd office conversation, or a classic 1980s message t-shirt. It seems silly, but if corporate brands and vacuous political soundbites can embed themselves at the core of social life, surely we can try and create some space for the big issues too?

 

Of course there’s a lot more that we can do, and there are organisations and individuals really well placed to coordinate and guide our next actions. But for now, the four points I’ve laid out make a good start.

Let’s get moving.

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