Thursday, 10 September 2015

COP21: World's Last Chance

Pic of two hands with world map painted on them

"We are counting on you!" so said the children in a video clip shown at the Élysée Palace. France staged its COP21 launch in Paris today. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The COP21 conference is the world's last chance to save the planet.

There was no mincing of words in Paris this morning. No more disputing whether climate change is happening. No more quibbling over how many degrees are necessary to stabilise the planet.

The world must act.

180 nations must commit and act cooperatively together. No more "we'll start next year". "Later" will be too late. Failure cannot be on the COP21 agenda.

COP21 is not about saving pretty little butterflies. It is not about saving cute animals. It is about saving mankind.

Our children will hate us for failure. Our descendants would hate us for all eternity... except if COP21 fails they won't be around to hate us.

The key to success at COP21 is telling the truth about climate change. The refugee crisis has given us a mere taster of the human agony of mass migration.

Climate change will hit the weakest nations the hardest... those with the weakest voice at the negotiating table. It calls on the more powerful nations to be magnanimous. The key word of COP21 must be "solidarity".

Short-term, blinkered, self-interested deals will ultimately rebound. They will condemn us all to share the same dire fate.

All eyes will be on Paris for two weeks in this massive conference at Le Bourget. The French are keen to set the world an example. The conference itself is to be a massive exercise in sustainability. All participants will be invited to use public transport to keep the conference's carbon footprint as low as possible. French gastronomy will be on offer with a keen eye on reducing food waste.

Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, will host 1,000 world mayors. They will seek not only to share local ideas but ways to act together. Their plans and actions should help us to understand what this global conference will mean for us on a more local level.

The most striking comment quoted at the launch came from a Moroccan woman: 

"You are going to decide who will live or die..."


If world leaders take short-cuts for short-term popularity at COP21, the consequences will be enormous. They should bear in mind that they will effectively be signing a greater number of death warrants. Every now and again, they should check their consciences by looking at the young conference helpers around them.

There are tough choices ahead - choices many ordinary citizens couldn't bear to contemplate. We have to place our trust in our leaders to become the statesmen demanded by our planet's crisis.

We'll be watching and counting on them.

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