World leaders are gathered in Paris today to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP21) represents yet another chance to address the environmental shifts threatening our shared environment. Representatives from nations around the globe are discussing the social and economic changes this task demands.
As a world leader in sustainable environmental practices, The National Trust has a presence at the Paris talks. Environmental Adviser Keith Jones is representing the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in Paris during COP21. Jones is also speaking on behalf of 66 other Trusts that protect places across the world as part of the International National Trust Organization (INTO).
That the National Trust is considered an important figure comes as no surprise: the organization has long embraced sustainable practices, and just this week renewed its partnership with Good Energy to increase public awareness of climate change. The Trust’s recent update on how climate change affects its mission is also essential reading.
We’ll have more from Keith when he returns from Paris later this month, but in the meantime, we’re glad he’s keeping a thorough blog documenting his experience. By reading his blog, one gets the sense of the dramatic ups and downs organizers and world leaders face in confronting climate change. One minute, the possibility for fundamental change appears within reach, but in another the situation already seems incredibly dire.
For instance, here was Keith’s optimistic take on Day 1:
“The big cheeses were in town and all seemed to be saying aspects around ‘future generations, once in a life time, have to do stuff now, moral obligation’ which were all good scene setters. Now lets see if thoughts turn to deeds in the next two weeks and then beyond.”
By Day 4, though, Keith reflects on this dramatic moment:
“I had one of those stop in my tracks moments today. I popped into the Indigenous People’s pavilion which was packed to the rafters with people listening. In front of me was the President Anote Tong and Enele Sopoaga prime-minister of Kiribati and Tuvalu. I already knew that these and other island nations are right at the pointy end of climate change; last year they had their first ever cyclone which has torn into the islands, drinking water has turned saline, year on year flooding, outlying islands disappearing. When you hear a president stating that they are resigned to the fact that even with only a 1.5C temperature rise [for reference, in 2009 the US and China pledged to keep temperature rises within 2C] their country will mostly disappear and that they are now working on a dignified migration of their nation. (what would you feel like?) He was fighting the fight for other nations now already knowing the country is doomed. Inspiring …. He did not want our pity. He wanted our action!”
The juxtaposition of the hopeful rhetoric of Day 1 and the desperate situation in Kiribati and Tuvalu made apparent on Day 4 seems to be reflective of COP21’s uncertain tone. We’re glad, at least, that the National Trust is speaking on behalf of our shared mission at this critical juncture. Stay tuned to this space for news on future developments.