Reflections on COP21: Our Path Forward
I just tucked you into bed. Since you are too young to grasp the significance of this historic moment, I will write to you about my thoughts of the global climate talks in Paris, COP21 and you can read it when you are older.
When you read this, you will probably not remember that I was away for almost an entire week, the longest I have ever been away from you. I went to Paris to help launch Our Kids’ Climate, a new international coalition of parents groups working on climate, and to bring the DearTomorrow message to the negotiations. We launched DearTomorrow during the COP21 to help generate interest and support for a strong agreement. I waited anxiously as the talks were extended an extra day, and then actually teared up with an overwhelming sense of joy and relief when I heard that 195 countries had signed the most ambitious international agreement to date.
As I try to write down my own perspective of the outcome of the negotiations, I am struck by the feeling of possibility and momentum that was generated in the lead up to and during the negotiations. This is the first time in a long time that I feel hopeful about our ability to collectively address climate change on a broad scale. Hopeful because a real international movement has been built and it is gaining momentum. Hopeful because for the first time governments came together to fully acknowledge the challenge of climate change and to set an even more ambitious goal than we thought was politically possible. This goal lays the foundation for a new path forward.
When I create an image of this path in my mind, it is not the three-foot wide, open paved trail that many of us would like it to be. It is a very narrow, steep path, deep in the woods. The muddy ground is uneven and filled with holes and rocks. It looks difficult to climb. And there are many branches in the way making it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. Yet, I can tell that it is still a path, a way forward toward a clean energy future and a more stable climate.
As we continue to grow this movement and implement new policies and technologies in the months and years to come, more and more people will walk down this path. It will widen and become well trodden. One day ten or twenty years from now, when you look back from the future, you will be able to clearly see the entire path. And you will wonder how it was that the path was not always there.