16 December 2015
Sophie, Ben and Judith are three of ActionAid’s Local Organisers – campaigners who give their time to fight locally for global change. This weekend, they’ve been at the COP21 UN climate talks in Paris, standing up for the world’s most vulnerable women and children. They tell us how it went:
Arriving in Paris for the protests, we were all really excited. The atmosphere outside the talks was fantastic – such creativity and energy. Everyone knew they were there to show the world what people power can do. It really felt like the start of something.
The Paris climate talks
In the lead-up to the talks, ActionAid has been calling for world leaders to stand with the women and children in poorer countries who are bearing the brunt of a climate crisis they didn’t cause. Thousands got involved, joining last month’s huge People’s Climate March and asking their MPs to question the government about their plans for the talks.
Now the talks have wrapped up with a historic agreement – almost 200 countries have recognised the importance of trying to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees. The agreement even includes a global goal on climate adaptation, which ActionAid has been campaigning for.
Unfortunately, it’s not a strong enough goal to help those suffering from climate change right now. By itself, this agreement won’t lead to the action we need.
That means it’ll be up to us – campaigners in all countries of the world – to keep their governments on track. Thankfully, the activists outside the talks have made one thing very clear: the movement is up to the task.
The movement for a fair climate deal
The atmosphere outside the talks was buzzing. It was great to meet so many people who were passionate about change, and it really felt like this was a revival of the climate justice movement. Everyone knew they were there to show the world what people power can do.
On Friday, we joined youth activists, indigenous communities and ActionAid campaigners from all over the world for a human chain outside the talks. The next day, we joined thousands of climate activists to station ourselves across Paris, together spelling out ‘climate justice peace’ when viewed on a map.
As we marched, we carried pictures from the photographer Gideon Mendel, who travelled the world for eight years profiling people whose lives had been devastated by climate change. Later, we joined campaigners at the Champs Elysées to lay down flowers in memory of those lives already lost.
By the end of the day we were tired and hungry, but it was such a fantastic experience being part of this historic day of action. We were so glad to have had the chance to personally take our message to the climate talks – we’re returning to the UK energised, and looking forward to finding creative ways to hold our government to account.
We’ll be doing more of that in February, at ActionAid’s 2016 campaigner conference – a day for campaigners old and new to meet up and celebrate activism all over the world.
There will be workshops, talks from southern activists, and the chance to learn more about ActionAid’s campaigns on tax and women’s rights. It’s free to sign up, and you don’t need any experience to come along.
Campaign with ActionAid
We hope you can join us – it’s been so empowering to meet such a huge community of activists this weekend, and to see so many people with an appetite for making global change. We can’t wait to get back to the UK and do it again.