Recently we have seen major calls for action against climate change, with the Climate Conference of the Parties (COP21) in November – December of 2015 which saw the joining of world leaders from across the world to draw up plans to combat some of the environmental issues that lay ahead; even students have begun to campaign for their institutions to move investments into ethical funds…and by ethical, we mean fossil free!
Unfortunately it isn’t that easy, for example…aboard the Titanic, the iceberg that sunk the ‘unsinkable’ ship was spotted from miles ahead, but unfortunately the crew still couldn’t direct its course far enough away in time without tearing the hull of the boat leaving those aboard to sit and wait for the destruction to happen.
A lesson that we have learnt from the Titanic is that nothing is indestructible, however, it’s often a lesson we forget to remember…
Much like those aboard the titanic did after the iceberg hit, mankind are beginning to notice the impact of Global Warming on the environment, starting with the preliminary flooding, which can be applied quite literally to recent events that have happened in the North of England, from extreme weather conditions. Things are set in course and whether we like it or not, we’ll be bearing the brunt of the tear in our ecosystem caused by global warming.
Daniel Bodansky claims that ‘Although the greenhouse warming theory was put forward more than a century ago by the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (1896), climate change did not emerge as a political issue until the 1990s’ now we have begun to notice that those who perhaps before brushed off the term as a passing phrase in a conversation about the weather, are beginning to realise that the subject of global warming is more serious than first thought. Global Warming is here, and we’ve been naming it too. The most recent product is called Storm Imogen…?
However, even though more developed countries like the UK, America, China and others, have generally caused a large majority of environmental damage, those taking the first hit on the front line are developing countries with significantly less wealth like Africa and Syria, whose involvement in causing global warming has been little, if not at all.
Many argue, including Prince Charles himself that global warming is to blame for factors which are not automatically associated with climate change; although in England, unrest has been caused by floods; those in developing countries with little to protect themselves from dramatic changes have been severely affected. Prince Charles and others have argued that the current war in Syria, and the subsequent fleeing of refugees, has been directly impacted by droughts lasting up to 6 years, which have left farmers with little livelihoods as land becomes un-farmable and unable to produce food for families and for selling.
You can see below the interconnections with climate change and geopolitical activities from the World Economic Forum…
So what are we doing about it!?…
The first world climate conference took place in 1979 and in 1992 countries joined in an international treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to build a cooperating agreement to combat climate change to put together coping strategies with inevitable changes and to reduce further impact and damage.
In order to strengthen these agreements negotiations began in 1995 and the Kyoto protocol was subsequently created in 1997; ‘The Kyoto Protocol legally binds developed country Parties to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began on 1 January 2013 and will end in 2020.’ (http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/6031.php )
Since the first conference, world leaders have joined annually to discuss climate issues; the most recent being the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) ending on December 12th.
Marches took place in towns and cities, including one of the biggest marches being held in London, many of whom also went on to march in Paris, to show their support for climate change.
COP21 saw some demands for action for the countries that are suffering under the hand of developed countries; in 2014 ‘$62 billion were raised…by developed countries to help developing countries cope with climate change’ as a form of compensation and to build barriers against future climate catastrophes, showing that this is a marker that can be carried through.
Although climate change is on the minds of many, difficulties have arisen when attempting to implement change swiftly due to lack of support from companies with major power and by governments; those at the conference of the parties have been criticized for not focusing on the pressing matters or putting strategies in place to improve economies, renewable relationships and punish those who do not stick to their word, making it easier for governments to take a laid back approach to climate issues.
Many groups have formed in response to the issues that lie ahead try to impact change from a bottom up approach and tackle issues which can be more easily influenced by those with little power and money, which will by way of general consensus, put pressure on those in power to focus on the issues at hand and make change.
Some examples of some well-known organisations are Greenpeace, C40, PETA, Friends of the Earth and People and Planet. People and Planet are a student network that campaigns for issues that are important to students, one of the campaigns People and Planet are currently focusing on is the ‘Fossil Free’ movement and has seen many students taking it upon themselves to encourage their institutions to remove investments of up to £5.2bn from collective UK universities and colleges out of the fossil fuel industry (divest) and into renewable sources, slowly hoping to break down the corporate oil and gas industries.
Environmental sustainability is a hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment, the recent changes in ecosystems have proven that this isn’t something to sit back and expect things to work itself out. With a 2 degree rise in temperature set in course for the next 15 years, strategies must be put together to implement change and in turn environmentalism has filtered itself into many different practices – organisations, jobs, research, learning, building and even daily lives; it is important that this continues to happen to pressure those with the power to make big decisions, to make the right decisions.