From Anger to Optimism.
The Climate Movement was born out of the deep dark silence of what industrialisation was doing to our planet.
We were making Mother Earth sick and it seemed no one wanted to talk about it. Especially not the people holding the microphones. Not the CEO’s of the companies digging her wounds, not the Prime Ministers or Presidents pocketing her pounds of flesh and not those who were indoctrinated with the falsehoods that there was no other way to drive fast cars, build businesses, to have, to own, to be.
In its infancy of the 1990’s, the Climate Movement needed to be loud, deafening and demanding. There was much ground work to be done. There were many in denial. Worse still, there were many in denial with skin in the game. The dangerous ones.
There were (and still are) many bullies with much power to bury information, buy solutions and block progress. (Hello Exxon, how are you these days?) Shining a light where there was darkness, felt like the keys to the climate-safe kingdom.
Meanwhile along the way, the many many many more who were ready to hear, heard and gathered.
By 2009, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the climate movement began to really show its teeth and mobilisation power on a global scale. Between 40,000 and 100,000 people attended a march calling for a global agreement on climate. The goal was still then, to legitimise the crisis. To basically get the world leaders to admit it.
Seven years later, after many stories of tragedy, predictions of complete demise, black skies and flattened skylines, after cyclone and typhoon, after flood and drought, after freeze and fire, something amazing happened.
In 2016, the (THEN) MAJOR goal of the Climate Movement was realised.
After years of good work by both those in the diplomatic engine rooms and those outside making the noise, we finally got the world leaders to agree we had a problem. Under the careful custody of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, the Paris Agreement was signed in November 2016.
Paris united world leaders under the acceptance that we are in trouble and things need to change. Hands were shaken. Hands were clapped. Hands were raised in the air in triumph. Then quickly fell back to hips. “What now?”
The world had agreed, the debate was over.
However the Climate Movement didn’t stop fighting. The marches continued, the message strengthened and the power grew. The masses listened, the minorities (finally) started to take centre stage and the politically middle-minded moved.
6 million people took to the streets in September 2019. To remind world leaders that regardless of agreements, change can’t wait. On all accounts, these are positive and beautiful things.
However, as the Climate Movement changed the hearts and minds of the planet, on many frontiers we didn’t ALWAYS change the way we fought.
Which has always been, from the corner. Sometimes it is difficult to for the little guy to admit he has become a big guy. We now cross culture wars and parliament floors. We are bigger than a generation, a figure-head, a left or green or hippie label. No longer the bohemian, we are the behemoth of the majority.
According the Pew Research Centre, almost 70% of the global population consider Climate Change to be a real and major threat. A following 20% believe it to be a minor threat, but a threat non-the-less. It is clear the world is talking and more importantly, we are listening to each other.
If the Climate Movement was a dinner party, nearly everyone is already here.
The conversation is good, the company is great, the music is playing and we do not need to spend more time or energy on the few of people who aren’t at the party (yet).
Let us not worry so much about who didn’t want to come. Or whose parents (political funders) told them they weren’t allowed to. We certainly don’t need to worry about those who don’t believe in parties at all. Even in their make-believe reality where Climate Change doesn’t exist, soon they will realise that no matter the case, they run out of fossil fuels between 2060 and 2090. And they are probably going to be interested in what we are up to then.
It is it’s time to focus on what is happening inside.
We have bubbling solutions and new ways of doing things. We have solar and wind that is cheaper than oil. We have children with creativity and entrepreneurs with answers. We have industries ready and waiting, both new and converted. We have people in all levels of governments and intergovernmental forums, who were us, before we were us. We have deep indigenous knowledge coupled with new scientific frontiers. We have the solutions, the market share and the stakeholders. We have the people who remember that to be human, is to be problem-solvers. We are the species who invented the knife. We built the shelter. We landed on the moon. Who discovered the atom. Who harnessed the sun. We are humanity. We have everything we need right here.
So maybe we don’t need to yell (as much) anymore.
Even if it is to a rich ex President (Hello Donald!) it is beginning to feel like punching down. Regardless of their fleeting titles, the people not here are grossly outnumbered and we can simply move around them.
We do not need to give anyone the false impression that they control our dinner party. Let’s leave them be playing hot potato in their little red and blue, left and right parties that most people hot-tailed out of a long time ago.
The best thing we can do now, is the same thing we tell our children to do about bullies. Ignore them. Wait for them to grow up. And most importantly, model what being a respectful grown up looks like.
Look inside ourselves and ask, who are we excluding, how are we showing up, where can we be better?
The Climate Movement is not sidelined anymore. We are not in the corner. We do not need to scream the house down. We are in the house, we are at the table of designing tomorrow. Let’s make sure we act like it.
Let’s get back to work. Coordinate, motivate and co-create. Let’s keep this thing moving, and the rest will come along, when they come along. If we really want a different, more just and inclusive world, let’s start at this huge amazing, highly attended dinner party. Let’s radiate the real hope that’s out there, leave the door open for more to to join, and play some Eta James.
By Matisse Walkden-Brown. (As seen on Medium)