The W’s of Climate Change

-Cam Gray

Today closes the 16th round of the UNFCCC negotiations on climate change in Cancun, MX. This however cannot mark the end of international negotiations on climate change. While solutions to the climate crisis have existed for decades (if not millennia), political and transnational interests have taken priority over those of the Global South and the Earth, our island home.

The threats posed by climate change, to humanity and Mother Earth, have been echoed countless times by respected elders, scientists, politicians and community members. Scientific reports, photographs, documentaries, testimonies and various other pieces of evidence have been used to corroborate the severity of the climate crisis and the very real impacts it will have across the globe. Unfortunately corporate and political greed continue to prevent the necessary systemic change that would allow for proper mitigation of the problem. Inevitably, the question becomes: who, what, when, where, why and how will we deal with such a problem?

Who? The international community, including an equitable representation from the Global South, indigenous and marginalized populations, must come to a consensus on international action plans. These must respect our colonial history and the damage that our destructive behaviour has had on both generations of humans, but as well the earth itself. Public interest must be placed above private interest that merely seeks to exploit public or natural wealth.

What? Mitigate and adapt to the global climate crisis through community based solutions, international caps on emissions, keeping the oil in the soil, transitioning away from fossil fuels and re-connecting with the rights of Mother Earth. An international framework can be created for countries to respect, but solutions cannot be implemented in communities without fair, prior and informed consent of all involved parties.

When? COP16 will draw to a close within the next 24 hours (unsure of when the plenary will finish their meetings as Bolivia has just released a statement saying that they will block a currently proposed text), but they will very likely not emerge with a signed text. Substantive and equitable action on climate change is, however, needed immediately. While COP17 is a year away, domestic action can begin immediately. Strong domestic policies and actions, that respect the international communities decisions and agreed science, will strengthen the outcomes of COP17 in Durban.

Where? Climate change will have effects in all areas of the globe, therefore it is illogical to single out one area where action can or will be taken. We must ensure that our local, provincial, national and global communities respond to this issue. As a Canadian, I am of course very focused on improving (or creating for that matter) our climate policy action plan. I am also interested in improving local community relations as a way that we can come together to address the problems, such as climate change, poverty and oppression that plague our community.

Why? By the year 2030 climate change is predicted to kill an average of 1,000,000 people a year. Since the UN negotiations in Copenhagen last year, over 21,000 people are estimated to have died from deaths directly attributable to climate change. As this number continues to skyrocket, the effects are of course being felt by all other species of our planet. It is important to remember that climate change will affect more than just humans and that the earth can and will continue without the existence of humans.

How? There is no one single solution to climate change. Similar to any effective campaign, we must use a diversity of tactics. These tactics must respect local community decisions, the demands of the international community and be respectful of Mother Earth. Promoting false solutions in one part of the globe will simply address the symptoms anthropogenic climate change, without properly addressing the causes.

Combating climate change is possible, but it will require a much more concerted effort on the part of our communities. The political and international negotiation system appears to be incapable of reaching decisions that properly address the international crisis that we are faced with, so we as a global people must stand up and take action ourselves.

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