Every week, it seems as though the news is covering a new rally or strike for climate change.
Just today, thousands of students in Australia coordinated a strike in 20 cities and regions around the country to urge their government to take serious action on climate change.
Tomorrow in London, the Campaign Against Climate Change Coalition and the Extinction Rebellion are organising a march in front of the Polish Embassy to urge the UK government to take stronger action.
If the timing seems coincidental, be assured that it isn’t.
Next week, COP24 starts, and it may be the most important COP yet.
COP is the annual international climate change convention, or to call it by its full name, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Most people are familiar with COP21, commonly known as the Paris Agreement, which happened in December 2015. That was the moment when 196 governments agreed to keep the global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees celsius.”
This year, the pressure is high.
While the agreement was made in 2015, the following needs to happen in the next two weeks:
- Countries need to agree on how the Paris Agreement will be implemented (many call this the “Rule Book”)
- Countries need to determine how the Paris Agreement will be financed
- Countries also need to start finalising their national climate plans, which are due next year and contain self-determined targets
The stakes are even higher given the IPCC report, which came out in October. According to the report (which is an incredibly comprehensive piece of work made up of hundreds of scientists ), a 2 degree rise in global temperature will cause irreversible damage to ecosystems globally. That means that the Paris commitments may not be stringent enough.
Needless to say, the negotiators at COP24 have plenty of work to do.
But where do we, the regular people, come in?
Public engagement matters, and is in fact critical to the negotiations that will take place over the coming weeks.
Politicians are flying to Poland to represent us, their constituents. So we need to be loud and clear. We care about climate change.
It’s easy to shrug and say that one person doesn’t make a difference. But we can’t think that way anymore. We are all just individual people, but together, we form a movement. Together, our voice is powerful.
So whether you choose to attend a rally or contact your MP or even engage on social media, know that your participation will make a difference.
You even have an opportunity to be heard during the COP24 opening speech! The ‘People’s Seat’ initiative calls for public inputs for the opening address of COP24, which will be delivered by David Attenborough on the 3rd December. Everyone and anyone who wants to add their message to voice the urgent need for action, can do so by using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat on Twitter.
I hope you will join me in making our voices heard over the next couple of weeks.
Together, I guarantee we can be pretty loud.
Written by Eleni Polychroniadou