COP 21, not just a negotiating process

By Jesse Way

Here in Paris at COP21 there seems to be two camps of people when it comes to how we can collectively address the monstrosity of a challenge that is climate change. On the one side there is a large contingent of those that believe we can buy our way to the solution and that if we throw enough money at the problem we will surely solve the issues at hand.

This concept is brought forth repeatedly in the various side events at COP 21. International Organization A, or High Level Expert B discuss how well they understand the challenge of climate change, they go on to describe the amazing work they or their organization are doing to come up with solutions and they congratulate one another on being leaders in the fight for a better future.

In one such event yesterday hosted by the Global Environment Facility titled, ‘Beyond Grants: Innovative Blended Finance’, Sean Kidney, the CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative, offered his ideal future as one in that COPs of the future would not be negotiated by Environment Ministers but by Treasurers as the problem of climate change would be addressed by making the right investments in ‘green’ finance and ‘clean’ technologies. Through such ‘green’ investments the argument goes, we will be able to move towards a carbon free future where all new technologies are ‘sustainable’ and alleviate as opposed to contribute to a changing climate.

Somewhat in the shadows at COP21 there remains a second camp of people, a camp that seems to still sit somewhat on the sidelines of the conversation, still struggling to have their voices heard.

There is no doubt in my own mind that these so called green investments in clean technologies, whether it be renewable energy infrastructure for solar and wind power or electric vehicles and more energy efficient appliances, are all an essential component of a more environmentally friendly future.

But is it enough?

Many of us believe that a more fundamental shift in how our society and we as human beings perceive and interact with the world around us is necessary. In order to change our actions we must alter our behaviour, this requires a change of attitude which in turn relies upon a transition in the way in which we think. No small task to be certain.

My view and that of many of us in this second camp of people is that the true problem at hand is a growing disconnect between us as human beings and the natural world that sustains us. We consume without consciousness, having little or no idea of the environmental impact of our consumptive behaviours.

We must find ways of reconnecting with the world around us to better understand how our daily behaviour and routine actions impact our environment.

To me the problem we face is an ecological one. We as human beings are a mammalian species of planet Earth for which we are consuming our resources beyond the carrying capacity of our environment.

How much water did it take to grow the food we ate for breakfast? How much land was required to grow the cotton in the clothes that we are wearing? How many trees were cut down to build the houses in which we live? What was the impact of the mining operations to find, extract and manufacture the rare earth metals in our electronics? These are questions we should be asking of ourselves and of each other.

We must reconnect with our environment and reacquaint ourselves with the natural world around us.

In lieu of being another skeptic with a myriad of complaints and criticisms but no solutions I offer you this: GROW (some of) YOUR OWN FOOD. Reconnect with the soil and the water, get your hands dirty and become once again a part of – instead of apart from – the ecological processes that govern our lives.

What good will this do you may ask. Who am I to offer such suggestions you may question.

Well I am a youth with a voice, a person with ideas.

We must not remain silent any longer. IFSA member Salina Abraham at the closing address of the Global Landscapes Forum stood up and made her voice and the voice of youth heard loud and clear and we must too!

(If you haven’t already check out her speech here!)

We are not merely youth of the future, we are people of the present and our ideas and opinions matter.

We all have something to contribute and offer in the dialogue on how do we move forward towards a more just and equitable world. My experience here in Paris and so far at COP 21 has more than anything instilled in me a drive to take action and make my voice heard.

So I will offer my own suggestion for a better future once more, GROW YOUR OWN FOOD, reconnect with the natural world and stand up and let your voice be heard!

What are your ideas? What are your solutions? Share them with the world!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the International Forestry Students’ Association.


One thought on “COP 21, not just a negotiating process

  1. Hey Jesse, thanks for this great article and the issues you raise in there! I totally agree with you and would lie to add a quote of Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Though I think that large scale political and financial changes have their roles to play, it is exactly a change of mindset that is needed to adequately address climate change. It is this lost connection between us and nature that is at the roots of many of the problems we face today. Climate change is just one of the results and visible effects of a deeper human crisis we face. And by having lost the connection with nature, we in fact have also lost the connection to ourselves. At the end we are and will always be what we eat, breath, drink – and that is the earth. We have to realize that everything we do, if it is good or bad, has some effect on the earth and ultimately we do this to ourselves. What do we want to be? How do we want to be? Are just some of the questions we have to ask ourselves! Growing food is one way to work and care for nature and to establish a strong connection with the earth and oneself! Let’s do it, let’s be it!! Thanks!


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