Climate change is hard to understand because it is a global phenomena. It might affect us, but we might not notice before it is too late. But a new trend, the so-called “glocalization” highlights the efforts we can make at a local level – especially when the heads of states are hesitating, or even withdrawing, from the big international agreements.
BY MARIA LENTZ-NIELSEN
We’ve all heard about the UN COPs. The high level meetings for all heads of states that should save the planet. We had a pretty miserable one in Copenhagen COP15 in 2009, but luckily, others were more successful. The latest, the Paris agreement from COP21, is the most successful so far. It is an international agreement to prevent the global average temperature to increase by more than 2 degrees celsius.
Now that is a bit fluffy for us normal people. How can we prevent that? 2 degrees celsius, how do we even measure it? We can’t really check our local weather forecast since it’s a target for the global average. So let’s just leave those calculations for the UN and other smart people, and we will do our best to limit all kinds of greenhouse gas emissions in the meantime.
Find your local greens
So what do you do? Well, read all our great tips on this blog! But also, look up a bit and check out your local green policies. Do you have a green party in your local city government? Are you aware of any green initiatives in your neighborhood? For the Danish readers out there, the municipal elections are coming up this November and I encourage you to check out the green candidates on the ballot.
Engaging in local politics might require more effort than choosing organic vegetables in season, but if you have some extra spare time engaging in campaigning and politics can be a lot of fun. It is also a way to exercise your political influence even if you are not a citizen of the country you live in. Personally, I move around a lot, so I rarely do. And it doesn’t have to be a political party specifically, it can also be an organization where you can contribute in many creative ways.
The cities are rebelling
Cities are responsible for 80% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions according to UN-HABITAT and the majority of people on the planet have lived in cities since 2007. That means that cities are the issue as much as the solution. They will face a state of emergency when natural disasters hit, so better prepare sooner rather than later.
And many cities have done that already. They have taken up the challenge that seemed too difficult for many nation states to agree on. They invest in green technology, self-driving electrical cars, improve waste handling, nudge their citizens to use public transportation or even ride their bikes to work.
A great example is the American mayors that went against Trump when he denounced the Paris Agreement. They will keep doing theirs to live up to the 2 degrees celsius limit starting in 2020. Also internationally, cities form networks to collaborate on fighting climate change. One organization that have taken up the goal to promote green cities is C40. It represents more than 90 big cities with over 650 mil. inhabitants who runs a quarter of the global economy.
Sustainability also means being socially responsible
Most of C40’s members are mega cities. They have great influence on the global level of greenhouse gas emissions because most of it comes from them. With a quarter of the world’s economy, the potential for investing in greener ways of life is pretty good. But there are also many poor people in mega cities, and natural disasters hit them the hardest. New York during the Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is a good case to exemplify that. Downtown Manhattan was severely hit with flooding that destroyed buildings and businesses for billions of dollars. New York Stock Exchange even closed for two executive days. It’s bad for business, as they say. But two days, though? In the poorer part of Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, the damages from the hurricane took more than three years to repair.
More and more poor people now live in middle income countries, contrary to what most people would think. Poverty has decreased tremendously since the 90s, but inequality has grown. That calls for not just greener policies and initiatives but also more social ones. So be active in your community, hopefully it makes a difference. The cities have greater potential than we have given them credit for. If the #ClimateMayors can go against Trump’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, so can we.