Two journeys to drive climate change action
30 Jul 2015 by Daniel Price, Climate change scientist and Founder, Pole to Paris
The weird thing about climate change is that the driving mechanism of the problem is actually very simple: you have a gas, which when put in the atmosphere traps heat and in turn changes the climate system. While we understand where the problem comes from, solving it is incredibly difficult given the complexity of global politics, the economic system, competing interests, and the capacities of countries and societies.
A significant challenge around this is public engagement and the difficulty in effectively communicating the issue. Not everybody is a scientist and the cause and effect can be vague for many. But an emerging new dialogue is changing the discourse, emphasizing that climate change isn’t only an environmental issue, but aneverything issue.
This is why I created Pole to Paris.
Pole to Paris was launched in early 2015 with support from UNDP in Samoa. Its goal: to raise public awareness about climate change ahead of this December's COP21 climate conference in Paris. We aim to challenge leaders, engage with people to understand the problem, and start discussions about potential solutions. My colleague Erlend and I have decided to run and bike, respectively, from the Polar Regions to capture this message and exemplify the extreme measures needed for change to happen.
Left to its own devices, climate change will alter most things we know about our natural world. It will not be the end of the world –the world has gone through many more severe climatic changes in the past – but it will be a significant change, shifting weather patterns and migration routes, moving population densities, and changing what and where we consume goods and services.
Climate change will alter the Earth’s natural systems. These won’t be Hollywood-style rapid catastrophic events, but slow changes to rainfall patterns, occurrences of drought, acidification of the ocean, and a general increase in the extremes of our climate. Changes will produce benefits in some regions, but evidence suggests that the overall trend will be detrimental to the human population.
The world’s poorest will feel these changes soonest and strongest, as they are often the most exposed and least prepared. The developing world is on the frontline and will require unprecedented support to adapt and tackle these challenges.
UNDP is a key player in this regard, supporting developing countries in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Because of this, Pole to Paris has partnered with UNDP and is excited to work with its Country Offices around the world as we continue our journey.
Already we have seen exciting examples of climate action on the ground in Indonesia, where UNDP is playing a key role in supporting the development of renewable energy projects in the nation of nearly 250 million people. As a rapidly developing country, Indonesia’s energy choices in the coming years will directly influence the global climate and the ability of its people to move above the poverty line. Being an archipelago of thousands of islands, grid power is certainly not the most effective way to deliver electricity to the masses, and this is being factored into sustainable energy choices. Off grid renewable energy sources can offer power supply to communities across Indonesia in a sustainable manner, while providing the much-needed electricity to improve their quality of life.
Meaningful cuts in greenhouse gas emissions can be made without sacrificing development or socio-economic progress.
When we set off on our journey with Pole to Paris, we hoped to share such stories and encourage more people to get on the climate action bandwagon.
There is an opportunity here for the world to address climate change. It’s not only an environmental issue, it’s an everything issue. And everybody needs to get involved.