Half a Cup of Green Tea: COP 21

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It's a historic moment. After over twenty years of talking, wrangling and inaction, world leaders have signed a legally-binding climate deal--even agreeing that ultimately warming should be limited to 1.5'C, rather than the previously-discussed 2'C.

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We've all been fighting for this for years--and of course, it isn't what we asked for. As we knew going into the talks, current pledges by nations will bring us to a catastrophic 2.7-3.5'C. The document also says that we need to reach net zero carbon emissions in the second half of the century, whereas the UN's own climate science panel is much more specific, saying we must to get there by 2070.

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There's climate science and there's climate politics. Climate politics means striking a deal that oil producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia will sign. We knew this all along. COP21 won't save the world--but it will send a message. The message to global financial markets is loud and clear--the fossil fuels era is coming to an end. Put your money elsewhere. The oil still in the ground is worth billions of dollars only if there's a market for it. No market, no profit. Instead, investors will be looking to renewables and the low carbon economy, spurring increased development and implementation of green energy, electric vehicles and so on.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature is speaking loudly and clearly. Record floods in Chennai, record floods in the UK, record droughts in the Sahel, record droughts in the US, record fires in Australia...to mention but a few of her recent messages. She'll continue speaking and waking us to the need to change.

Before the Paris talks, we'd been sitting with an empty cup for twenty years. Truly slow service at the World Café! During the talks we lifted our voices. The type of tea being brewed wasn't really what we ordered. For example, emissions from shipping and air traffic were left out of the mix. Now the tea is poured. Our cup is half full--and that's progress. It is indeed historic.

Let's take a moment to join the applause, then consider how to get the other half-cup. As one Paris delegate, activist Anieesa Khan said, real change doesn't come from governments, it comes from grassroots action. So, what can we do?

  • Press your church, university or city to divest from fossil fuels.
  • Promote, volunteer for and vote for the potential world leaders who will make a difference-- such as Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. (Canada, congratulations, you did it!)
  • Be a voice for justice and peace. Every action you take on behalf of social justice and human rights will have a positive feedback towards environmental concerns. Climate justice, social justice and human rights go hand in hand.
  • Eat less meat. Get your dairy from small local producers. Cattle feedlots produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than CO2.
  • Keep fighting fracking. Here's what Cornell professor Robert Howarth told The Nation: "If we stop producing methane, which means stop doing fracking of natural gas and oil, the world wouldn't run up against that (1.5'C) limit for about 50 years. So we could buy ourselves 25 to 35 years of time, which is critical."
  • Walk, bike, take the bus. It's what you do every day that counts. You don't need to go into agonies of guilt over an occasional plane trip, but choose nonstop flights and only for longer journeys.

Most of all, stay positive, keep hope alive and remember the seventh generation. Cynicism, bitterness and despair will only lead to apathy. Without us, all of us, there would have been no COP 21 and no Paris agreement. We can't save ourselves and our fellow species by acting from fear or anger, still less by giving up and withdrawing from the fight.

Get up, stand up, stand up for your right
Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight
Get up, stand up. Life is your right
So we can't give up the fight

Love will save us, gratitude will save us. With a big thank you to all Paris delegates who stayed up night and day to bring us the climate agreement, let's have a nice slow sip of the tea they have poured us, take a breath and keep on fighting as open-hearted warriors.


Haiku by Paul Reps

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Ma, I'm afraid this was a 'voluntary' document, and is NOT binding. The United States made that distinction before the Conference even began.

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    This page contains a single entry by Alakananda Ma published on December 12, 2015 1:37 PM.

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