On the 31 October, eight young New Zealanders left for Marrakech, Morocco, as members of the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute’s delegation to the UN Climate Talks – known as COP22. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to have opportunity to experience high level decision-making first-hand as a NGO observer of the negotiations taking place. It also gave me an understanding what climate action looks like from an international perspective, where New Zealand fits and what our role is within this global community.
Prior to leaving for Marrakech, I was told that attending COP was the most effective way to learn about Climate Change – and after being fortunate to be present at COP22, I can wholeheartedly agree with this statement. While preparing for the conference, one thing that struck me was the enormity of it all – not only regarding what is at stake in terms of our environment and way of life if the impacts of Climate Change are not addressed, but also in terms of the administration of what it takes to allow all states, both developed and developing, to have their say. The process is complex and intense – with many, many acronyms. After three weeks of immersion in renewable energy, climate migration, mitigation and international law, it was difficult to choose only a few highlights:
- Meeting delegates from the frontlines of Climate Change brought home the impact of Climate Change, from members of the Sami Council who are witnessing ice melt and rising temperatures in the Arctic, to our Pacific neighbours, including delegates from the Marshall Islands whose home has already felt the is only two meters above sea level at its highest point.
- Another highlight was listening to representatives from organisations from all over the globe that are actively raising awareness in their communities, and promote ways that everyone can assist to mitigate the impact of Climate Change, who presented as part of the side events that ran concurrently with the negotiations that were taking place. The Green Faith movement, an interfaith coalition for the environment, is one example who presented on their aim to educate and mobilise people of diverse religious backgrounds.
“What can we do to help?” is the question asked by friends and family on my return to New Zealand. Here at The Tindall Foundation, divestment in fossil fuels is one step taken as an organisation that shows we are serious about change. Through our “Caring for our Environment and Preserving Biodiversity” focus area, we also support programmes that facilitate and promote opportunities for people to take action for the environment in their communities. The Smart Farming Program is an initiative supported by the Foundation which promotes sustainable land management by New Zealand’s pastoral farmers via an environmental monitoring system.
Recently launched Trees That Count is another Tindall Foundation supported initiative that aims to mobilise New Zealanders to plant millions more native trees – so every Kiwi can play their part in enhancing our environment, for biodiversity and for climate change. The fight to keep the earth from warming 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to limit the worst impacts of climate change is going require commitments from everyone. Let’s be part of the change for our future generation.