Reflections on the
December 2015 at COP21


So this week (mid-March 2016) proved another decisive date on our slow slide to climate change Armageddon.

Another set of record-breaking temperature data, this time from NASA, proclaimed our appointment with the apocalypse via a 1.35C hike in the monthly figure – ‘a bombshell of a climate report’ according to the Weather Underground that means we now face some of the most dangerously accelerating global temperature changes the world has experienced since records began.
But as usual, most media outlets buried the story in their back pages– COP21 had been their generous concession to spotlighting these sort of statistics and now it was back to business – and life – as usual: in the UK. media headlines continued to be dominated by the latest tax, pension and healthcare stories – never mind that at this rate there might not be a planet around in the future on which to enjoy your pension pay-outs. It seems clear we’re living in two separate worlds.

One world over-shadowed and over-whelmed by the very real prospect of climate change chaos. The other, a world blindly unaware (or deliberately looking the other way) and partying on like its – well - some time before the industrial revolution. And this division of thinking gave me pause to consider how our challenge is, in some ways, a very simple one.

Given all I learnt and experienced last December in those two intense weeks of COP21, my personal climate change philosophy is starting to coalesce around the pressing need to expose and challenge this binary outlook. I’ve worked in the NGO sector long enough to be familiar with the North/ South divide – the hemispherical split between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ worlds that drives so much wrong-headed policy thinking. So much of what I have done has been dedicated to creatively eliminating that global separation – to forging more empathetic connections that shift opposing cultures and communities into a more intimate, sympathetic alignment of potential collaboration.

It seems a lot of climate change thinking is blighted by this same bilateral positioning – but this time the fissure goes deeper than any difference in geographical location. There is a double-think around the whole topic of climate change that keeps the facts, stories, crimes and required actions and behaviour changes quarantined in a parallel universe, once-removed from the daily concerns of our everyday lives.