“…systemic political shifts have required civil disobedience on a significant scale……This is not an aberration; it is how change happens …….Few have occurred without it..…It’s time to participate in non-violent political movements wherever possible.”
Figueres, the UN Secretary for Climate Change between 2010 and 2015, is the public face of the historic 2015 Paris Accord. Her inspired grasp of the dynamics of the climate and ecological crisis and its mitigation drew the world together 5 years ago. 5 years on, that she calls persuasively for widespread civil disobedience is a measure of how the architect of Paris now believes we must act.
Her clarion call is, perhaps, easy. The climate and ecological evidence is crystal clear and building faster than many had feared possible. The path our elected representatives have set us on, even with Paris, takes us to within reach of 4oC of warming beyond pre-industrial levels, with unthinkable consequences. The decade has opened with wildfires, floods, heatwave in the Arctic and a pandemic borne of the entrapment of nature. We know for certain that so much more will follow.
So, should you now step out on to the streets? Is it time to heed Figueres’ call and disobey? Time to mitigate the worst is fast running out. At COP26, the fifth anniversary of Paris, all nations must somehow restate their commitments to deliver not 4oC but 1.5oC but COVID has delayed COP26 to November next year. So ask yourself this, ‘In the face of social distancing, limits on public gatherings and unavoidable personal risk, how can the public discourse can be reset from COVID to CEE, how can public opinion be galvanised in favour of green recovery and not ‘business as usual’ and how can the conditions for an historic outcome in Glasgow be set?’ Figueres’ call to action, laden with risk, is not an easy one but we must all reflect….if not now, when?