Global climate change affects the economy, the environment and the human rights of the world’s population. To achieve climate justice, we need to understand the impact of climate change across the globe. After listening to women’s groups, island groups and undeveloped countries at COP21 these past few days, it has become clear to me that the U.S., the second largest carbon emitter, is not doing enough to address climate change. We need to act more quickly and boldly.
What’s at stake? Island nations, along with Indigenous communities and many developing countries, desperately need the global temperature increase to remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid extreme loss of life. Already, after 1 degree of warming, they are dealing with droughts, flooding and rising sea levels. These vulnerable countries are also calling for maintaining the language of protecting human rights in the COP21 agreement, because they are suffering the consequences of climate change more so than others. Yet even in the face of these challenges, they are personally making choices in their lives to continue reducing their carbon footprint.
The challenge for us is how can we all reduce ours, which are far greater?
The surge of new technology that I have seen today gives me hope that there are real and reliable ways to reduce our energy use and move away from carbon-emitting fuels. In Paris today, I saw hydrogen cars with their charging stations. I saw methods to recapture and reuse shower water, innovations to use wasted fuel to heat our water… the list goes on.
The day ended ended on a hopeful note, with a panel of U.S. elected officials signing a letter to President Obama expressing their commitment to achieving 50% renewable energy by the year 2030. They stated that the Federal government was not doing enough, so they are moving forward on their own.
It is rumored that the COP21 agreement may change the climate change target to a 1.5 degree Celsius cap, instead of the current 2 degree goal. This would be great progress if it comes about. All of us need to raise our voices to make this happen.