Lessons learned from COP21

Lessons learned from COP21

Last week, Climate Access hosted a webinar to discuss the success of the Paris UN climate talks and what this means for all of us working on climate change. The webinar featured USCAN’s Executive Director Keya Chatterjee, the UNFCCC’s Communications Officer Darren Barefoot, and the Tree Canada’s Managing Editor Ziona Eyob.

Moderated by Climate Access’ Executive Director, Cara Pike, Climate Access members were able to hear behind the scenes insights such as Darren Barefoot’s experience of the agreement announcement being delayed leading to the most carefully crafted tweet ever from the United Nations media team.

A well crafted tweet (via twitter @UNFCCC)

While the horrific terrorist attack that occurred in Paris in November changed the plans of civil society groups at the negotiations, the panelists reflected that the organizing restrictions made for more interesting and creative actions from groups. This included the placing of 10,000 pairs of shoes on the Place de la République that symbolized the march that would have taken place and other creative art-based expressions like the visualization of ‘red lines’ using red material to show the stakes and physical reality of climate impacts that can sometimes get lost in these meetings.

Red Lines in Paris (image cc via flickr 350.org)

Keya Chatterjee from USCAN found the final ‘red lines’ mobilization to be the most powerful moment of her COP21 experience as she felt the activism outside the negotiation halls reflected what was taking place inside the negotiations with powerful speeches and conversations about what needed to be done.

All panelists agreed that the Paris Agreement is a starting point, not the answer to all the world’s climate problems. However, it gives everyone working on climate change a leverage point from which to start moving faster. There is no excuse for inaction now, because 195 countries have all agreed to act and review commitments every five years to scale up ambition.

However, similar to purchasing a gym membership (thank you Canadaland Commons for that brilliant metaphor), now we have to actually do the work. It’s up to civil society to keep the pressure on governments to meet their commitments, it’s up to companies and businesses to push for clear regulations on carbon emissions, and it’s time to build the momentum to win this fight.

To listen to a recording of the webinar (for Climate Access members only), head here.

image via (cc) flickr UNclimatechange