If you’re not within a certain subsection of the Twitterverse made up of journalists, environmentalists and politicians, the hashtag #COP21 may not mean much to you. It refers to an event with a long and bureaucratic name: the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place November 30-December 12 this year. But behind this dry name is the potential for a vital turning point in the global climate crisis. The objective of this conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
Climate change is not some far-off concept. It is happening now. It is not a matter of debate. The scientific consensus is overwhelming. Burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 into the atmosphere are changing weather systems. Ice is disappearing from the poles and mountains. Catastrophic storms are increasing. This is not a question of enjoying a milder winter or needing to turn up the air conditioner a little higher. This is a humanitarian crisis. Left unchecked, climate change will render densely populated areas of the planet uninhabitable due to high temperatures and rising sea levels. It has already started happening. We have done so much damage already that it will continue to unfold in the coming decades even if we stop polluting right now. If we continue with business as usual, the consequences are unimaginable.
The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly unless there is tremendous force of political will behind them. There are many who still seek short-term profit at the expense of our long-term future on the planet, and they have the ear of those in power. The political will has not yet catalyzed strongly enough to make the kind of sweeping and urgent change needed to respond to the global crisis we have created.
This is why the journalists, environmentalists and politicians are tweeting on the #COP21 hashtag. It’s why activists all over the world are travelling to France to take advantage of having all the world leaders in one place. Parvati.org will be represented in Paris by its Director of Strategic Initiatives, Darcy Belanger. Amid general commitments to end fossil fuels, switch to renewables and create contingency funds for nations that will be affected most by climate change, there also needs to be a strong commitment to get oil rigs out of the Arctic Ocean immediately and forever. All nations with jurisdiction in the Arctic must agree to establish this vulnerable ecosystem as a peace sanctuary in perpetuity. This is no lark, but a vital step in halting climate change and cooling the agitation on the planet.
You can help by calling on your leaders to step it up in Paris. Now is not the time to pursue change through the same old bureaucratic methods that generate slow and incremental movement. Now is the time to make bold commitments and follow them up even if they mean a momentary hit to the GDP. In truth, planetary survival is the bottom line that matters. Tell your leaders to commit to getting off fossil fuels and enacting the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary.
COP21 could be another dry bureaucratic exercise that leads to no real change. Or it could be a planetary turning point. Let’s make it a turning point.