COP21: We are the people we’ve been waiting for

Vested interests mean we cannot leave it to politicians to take urgent action on climate change


This weekend, the Paris climate talks known as COP21 are drawing to a close. The talks are aiming to secure a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep us safe from catastrophic climate change. But it’s clear that if we want real action to be taken, we can’t leave it to those around the negotiating table.

Governments with austerity agendas and corporations motivated by profit and shareholder dividends don’t care about young people’s futures. I’m 24 and can expect to live to around 90. This means I will likely live to see 2100.

By this point, scientists predict that, without radical action on climate change and a transition to renewables, we’ll experience some of the most damaging aspects of climate change like extreme droughts and floods, and associated effects like mass migration.

These are the effects of climate change which are already known about and preventable today. The global climate science community represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that we must take action to prevent the worst effects of climate change by limiting warming to 2C.

That is based on conservative estimates, and with the assumption that yet again, world leaders will fail to grasp the urgency of the need for action.

A coalition of the world’s countries most vulnerable to climate change like Bangladesh and Kiribati called the Climate Vulnerable Forum have said that this does not go far enough, demanding that the global agreement is that we commit to less than 1.5C of warming. More than that, and science says sea level rises will destroy their homes and produce hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

How is it conscionable that the international community would sacrifice the homes, livelihoods and lives of millions of people? Capitalism and profit are powerful things. Saudi Arabia and India blocked the publication of a report which states that warming above 1.5C is dangerous for millions of low lying communities, in the name of their domestic economic growth.

“We are the people we’ve been waiting for” is a powerful phrase I’ve seen used by green campaigners, and it couldn’t be more relevant now. It is left to us – young people without parliamentary nor corporate power, to make world leaders realise that they must act now. They must work together to come to an ambitious global agreement.

Major changes in policy in the past, like abolishing the slave trade, reunifying Germany and the collapse of apartheid have not been brought about by careful political negotiations alone. They changed because people went into the streets and demanded better. They committed civil disobedience and gained the attention of the press and the public.

It is vital that we come together on Saturday 12th December in Paris to demand that the powers that be act now to secure the future of everyone.

As the Federation of Young European Greens rightly put it in one hashtag: #ItsOurFuckingFuture.

Thomas Pashby is campaigns officer for the Young Greens National Executive Committee

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14 Responses to “COP21: We are the people we’ve been waiting for”

  1. Brad JJ

    As the Federation of Young European Greens rightly put it in one hashtag: #ItsOurFuckingFuture.

    And India and Saudi Arabia do not give a fuck about your post-ideological, self-righteous, millennial, neo-imperialist, politically correct bullshit.

  2. Chester Draws

    #ItsOurFuckingFuture No. It’s yours, not mine. Leave mine alone thank-you.

    It is left to us – young people without parliamentary nor corporate power Piss off! You’ve got the same parliamentary power as a 40-year old. In 16 years you’ll be one, and nothing much will be different. Except snotty-nosed youngsters will be complaining about you.

    You really need to get a grip on this democracy thing. It doesn’t mean that those with the most noise win.

  3. I'm very cross about this.

    Whatever the lunatics in Paris have decided they will all now go home and with the exception of the EU and the USA do little or nothing. The EU and in particular the UK will raise vast amounts of tax to tackle this non-problem of global warming. Any warming is natural and is the cause of the rise in CO2, not the other way around. Nobody with any sense denies it’s a bit warmer now than 100 years ago but much cooler than other times in history. The bit of natural warming; which will in time turn to cooling, has warmed the oceans and those warmer oceans are releasing dissolved CO2, hence the rise in CO2 levels. If anyone doubts this then please take 2 cans of beer, put one in the fridge and the other on a warm windowsill. Wait a few hours and open them both and tell me what happens.

  4. Sid

    And the climate scam continues and we keep on paying …..

  5. madasafish

    I am a sceptic but please summarise your mathematical model which proves your CO2 theory and oceans.. A link to a peer review would be a necessity of course.
    Please keep it brief: a 15 page summary would be fine.

    As anyone who posts a theory without mathematical and physical proof of it has zero credibility, I am sure you will oblige.

  6. Miranda_star

    For all you completely misinformed and perhaps willfully ignorant climate sceptics – show me the science. Now. Or maybe its harder than you thought to disprove hundreds of peer reviewed methodically researched papers by likening the complex and interlinked climate systems to a can of beer. Just saying.

    Great article Tom.

  7. I'm very cross about this.

    I’m not qualified to write a 15 page or any length peer reviewed paper but if you want references all of which can be found at.

    Petit et all 1999 — analysed 420,000 years of Vostok, and found that as the world cools into an ice age, the delay before carbon falls is several thousand years.

    Fischer et al 1999 — described a lag of 600 plus or minus 400 years as the world warms up from an ice age.

    Monnin et al 2001 – looked at Dome Concordia (also in Antarctica) – and found a delay on the recent rise out of the last major ice age to be 800 ± 600

    Mudelsee (2001) – Over the full 420,000 year Vostok history Co2 variations lag temperature by 1,300 years ± 1000.

    Caillon et al 2003 analysed the Vostok data and found a lag (where CO2 rises after temperature) of 800 ± 200 years.

  8. I'm very cross about this.

    See the links below, they’re a difficult read but please persevere, it will; should be, enlightening. If you want more then just ask.

    The purpose of the beer can analogy was to demonstrate that warm water; beer, can hold less disolved CO2 than cold water; beer.

  9. Selohesra

    Dont forget that right wing puppet of big business and oil – Piers Corbyn

  10. I'm very cross about this.

    That right wing puppet has a masters degree in astrophysics which qualifies him to speak on the causes of climate change.

  11. David Lindsay

    Any approach to climate change must protect and extend secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, encourage economic development around the world, uphold the right of the working classes and of non-white people to have children, hold down and as far as practicable reduce the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and refuse to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.

    We must not lose sight of the full compatibility between, on the one hand, the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and, on the other hand, the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past.

  12. David Lindsay

    “It has always seemed like a tall tale to me that we were causing these fluctuations.” So said George Galloway to Piers Corbyn on Saturday’s Sputnik.

    Corbyn set out that this was not a Left-Right issue, and then issued a thoroughly left-wing critique of the West’s deindustrialisation, of the fact that jobs were therefore being reduced while CO2 was not, of how the likes of George Soros were the beneficiaries, of the trebling of energy costs, and of the holding back of development in what used to be called the Third World.

    As with the EU, the real opposition was always going to come from the traditional Left. Once it got going again. It is getting going again now.

  13. COP21: We are the people we’ve been waiting for – Tom Pashby

    […] Originally published on Left Foot Forward.  […]

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