OPINION: We need system change, not climate change post COP26

Demonstrators gathered at City Hall in Norwich on the day the COP26 event closed

Demonstrators gathered at City Hall in Norwich on the day the COP26 event closed - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Evie-May Ellis, a member of Green New Deal Norwich explains how the group are raising awareness of what we can all do to help the planet

And so, as the most important climate change conference of our time ends and the various officials fly home in their private jets, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and know that the effects of climate change will soon be slowed and the future of our planet and humankind is saved. Right?

Whether you have been marching the streets brandishing a homemade 'There is no Planet B' placard, or you think COP26 is a new online clothing brand, the decisions made – or rather the lack of them – will impact you and your way of life.

Even the biggest climate sceptics among the population are aware of the impact of climate change, from the horrifying fires in Australia and Turkey to the catastrophic flooding in Germany and Bangladesh. COP26 was the chance for global leaders to agree to drastic actions that would see us reduce global warming to 1.5c and prevent us from heading to complete destruction.

Depending on which newspaper you read and the information you are provided with through the manipulated algorithms of social media, you may believe that COP26 was a huge success, with agreements being signed to stop mass deforestation and reduce methane emissions.

However, it was not enough.

The agreements – many not binding or regulated – still failed to commit to the 1.5C target we need to avoid climate catastrophe, and instead placed us on a pathway towards a 2.7C degree rise.

Most Read

While countries such as Denmark and Costa Rica created the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance – committing to ending oil and gas projects in alignment with the Paris Agreement, our government is looking to approve two new fossil fuel projects in the UK.

Evie-May Ellis

Evie-May Ellis - Credit: Submitted

As the chants across the country on November 6 rightly stated, we need system change, not climate change.

Drastic, disruptive system change is the only thing that will lead to a better future.

We could sit back and let governments figure this out, accepting the 2.7C degree pathway that will result in more extreme weather conditions, food, water and resource shortages, and extreme levels of poverty. Because really, climate change doesn’t affect Norfolk, right?

According to this paper's reporter Chris Bishop, it most certainly does. “Even if we cut emissions now, sea levels will keep rising around our shores. A rise of between 0.5 and 1m is predicted by 2100”. Not to mention the damage warmer temperatures will cause to local wildlife and the impact this will have on our food production.

Climate change isn’t just an issue that is affecting ‘those other countries’. Climate change affects us all. The Global South is paying for the mistakes of humankind, and soon we shall be too.

So it’s time to cause disruption. To change the system. To change the culture. To take action.

The Green New Deal is a ten-year plan to stop climate change and build a world in which humankind can thrive.

The concept is set across five core goals that focus on decarbonising our economy, investing in green jobs to ensure a successful transition that guarantees work for those moving from high emission sectors, transforming the economy so that our financial systems serve the needs of the people and the planet, protecting and restoring vital habitats and carbon sinks, and promoting climate justice.

Green New Deal Norwich is the local hub for GND and aims to raise awareness of the Green New Deal movement, recruit members to the cause, and make a positive impact in the local area through initiatives such as developing a local food strategy that makes us resilient to global shocks, ensuring we can feed ourselves in the years to come.

Time and time again we have seen the power of people and the impact they have had on our laws and rights in this country.

From the Dagenham Strikes resulting in fairer workers’ rights, to Emmeline Pankhurst and her fellow suffragettes bringing the vote to all adults.

We have a proud history of people-led change and once again we need that fight and that energy.

We need everyone to embrace a passion to rectify the injustice that has been caused by people who have exploited their power and privilege at the expense of those most vulnerable in the world and our societies.

Everyone has a role to play, no matter how small.

Time restraints, financial pressures, work, and care responsibilities: we know that many people face restrictions and feel they are not able to do anything. But trust me, you are.

There is a place for everyone in confronting this enormous challenge and we need each and every one of you, now more than ever.

For more information on Green New Deal Norwich please contact NorwichGND@gmail.com

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter