These days the world’s top leaders are gathered in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties, to solve the biggest challenge of our time – climate change. As an employee in Statkraft, the largest producer of renewable energy in Europe, I am, as the rest of the company, following the development of the summit expectantly. Just another meeting of talking and no action, you say? Well, I am quite optimistic and there are in fact several reasons to be.
First of all – politics
The preparation for the summit has never been better. The bottom-up approach, where the individual countries are to submit their own targets, seems to work, giving a more flexible political structure. More than 170 countries, contributing to over 90 % of today’s emissions, have submitted their own voluntary ambitions for reducing carbon emissions, their so called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).
In contrast to earlier summits the top leaders will gather in the beginning of the conference, rather than meeting at the very end. This gives them more time to negotiate, and increases the probability of actually agreeing on something.
Also, political resistance towards taking actions has decreased significantly. The fact that climate change is a real issue today and not some future obstacle is widely recognized. Even the two largest emitters, China and the US, have shifted their positions. Last year the two countries signed a common agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Secondly – technology
Another important factor is that green technology is getting cheaper, which makes them much easier to commit to. There is still a gap between the emission cuts submitted and those necessary to stay within the 2 °C target by the end of the century. The sum of the INDCs will lead to a 2.7 degree increase. Still, it is a significant improvement from existing policies where we are heading towards 3.5 °C. One of the desired outcomes of the Paris conference is a commitment to gradually increase the ambitions in the INDCs every fifth year. We may not solve the climate issue this year, but we are getting closer to the right path.
Youth Leadership in Climate Change
When COP21 is over, the real work begins. I applied for and have been offered a position at the “Climate Change Youth Leadership”, a workshop organized by the University of Oslo as part of the Voices of the Future Reseach Project and cChange. On the 14–15th of December, 30 young people in the age between 16 and 30 will gather to learn how to lead action on climate change. I am really looking forward to the workshop, and I am certain that it will give valuable input to both me and my colleagues. We are many people engaging in the climate issue, and I am looking forward to our continued work towards a sustainable society. I will of course give you the highlights of the workshop here on the Trainee blog.
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” – Jack Welch
While we are waiting for the outcome of the summit, you may find yourself being able to do more for the environment. Maybe you could give yourself a green challenge of 2016? Choose the train instead of an airplane next time you travel, eat less meat, start walking or cycling to the office, bring a shopping bag next time you go to the store to save plastic, initiate a green change at the office, and so on. There are many ways you can contribute. For (Norwegian) green tips, inspiration and funny myth busting, visit framtiden.no. I may also recommend the “green blogs” gronnejenter.no or harvest.as. For non-Norwegian readers I can recommend cchange.no.
Other green tips or inspirational sites? Feel free to share that as well as your green challenge in the comment field below.