IN PARIS WE FELT IT IS POSSIBLE... to hold a shared intention as one Earth.
To honor COP21, the Christmas lights at Champs Elysee are lit from a mix of wind, solar, and even bikes and swings.
“Power from renewables has always been peoples’ power. Maybe that’s why large corporations and big-time politicians so instinctively perpetuate myths about its impracticability. No one can corner the sun or the wind. Every part of the country has a renewable source near at hand, whether it’s falling water or wood or biogas from cow manure. Renewable energy systems can be owned and controlled by the community. They create jobs for local folks. The money they generate stays home. They don’t make smog or acid rain or oily spills or radioactive brews, and you don’t need a Navy fleet to defend them.”
together with other thousands of people I joined civil society in Paris during COP21. The most palpable feeling was a shared sense of gravity and urgency for action. There was also optimism because we all had high hopes for an agreement that has taken decades to develop.
And of course Paris is just the beginning, albeit a strong beginning (see for exampleJohn Sterman's analysis of the significance of the Paris accord).
Paris sets a direction and a pace for emissions reduction that communities, legislators, nonprofits, businesses, artists, and individual citizens can use to plan for clean energy. Just a few days ago Massachusetts nonprofits and communities succeeded in attaching an expiration date to a new natural gas plant, which will be built at the condition of being decommissioned by 2050, the year when countries are expected to achieve net zero emissions (more info).
In the civil society circles around the official negotiations, it was clear that action, talents and intellects shouldn’t be all about “just” carbon. Our colleagues at Climate Interactiveare proposing a "multi-solving approach" to reduce emissions while making progress in health, well-being, and social justice (Read here Beth Sawin's 60% of Emissions Reductions Pledged in Paris Were Inspired by Multi-Solving).
And another important discussion outside the official negotiations was that the transition to a carbon neutral world cannot happen solely through problem solving. This was clear at PlaceToB, a hostel and co-working space in downtown Paris that organized round tables, creative workshops, radio shows, and media debriefs. There I shared the history of Limits to Growth (and recent data) and guided a visioning practice to open our hearts, minds and will as we built the blocks of a new climate story. We wanted it to be inclusive, compassionate, and deeply different.
With us we had Father Nigel Kelaepa (above), an Anglican priest from the Solomon Islands who traveled all the way to Paris to tell the story of his village and people. He told us that one day he decided to go visit the tombs of his grandparents, but he didn't seem able to find them any more. He was shocked to find out that the tombs were now under water.
Ultimately the success of the climate accord lies in our individual ability to hold the tension between a difficult reality and an inspiring and uplifting vision of a future that can be smarter and more imaginative than what we have experienced so far. Visioning in fact might well become the most in-need skill on the way to the emerging new normal…
With gratitude for your caring and to a year filled with visions and actions,