A Really Big Deal

25 years ago as a teenager, I wore ‘Save the PlanScan 4 (2)et’ t-shirts that I’d bought in H&Ms – influenced by my much-more-environmentally-aware sister. But I did also stop using aerosols to spray my fringe! I can’t remember the ‘moment’ when the Montreal Protocol was signed – though I’m still glad I was part of citizens calling for a global agreement on how to stop the growing hole in the ozone layer. 

20 years ago in my first job – at a social change charity – I dismissed my colleagues who criticised the number of flights I took. ‘You can’t seriously think people will change their behaviour like that’, I said.

10 years ago, with a husband and two children in tow by then, I was living in Sri Lanka – we were working as part of the response to the Tsunami. Watching a film that explained the problem of climate change was the thing that propelled me from having a passing interest in the environment to seeing it as central to my faith and my vocation. Mike and I asked each other how would we answer our kids if they said ‘why didn’t you do anything about this?’. We returned to the UK for both of us to work on environmental issues.

5 years ago I started working in Tearfund’s advocacy team, and I shared my colleagues’ heartbreak as they’d devoted deep reservoirs of energy, personal sacrifice and professional expertise, towards calling for a global agreement on climate change at the Copenhagen Climate Talks. We came far short of where we needed to get to that time.

This year. Now. Today. Even before I get on the Eurostar to go to Paris on Friday I feel overwhelmed by the significance and the potential for hope offered by the UN climate talks which are taking place there in the first two weeks of December. I’ll be working with some of Tearfund’s partners and other international Christian organisations – to both influence governments there, and raise attention to the issues in our congregations back at home.

But this is part of a much deeper journey. I have learned and I have changed. Along with millions of others’, my lifestyle is different. We eat more veggie meals. We cycle to work and we drive to Slovakia when we visit my sister’s family (who ended up building the first Passive House (zero carbon) in that country!). We have to fly for work trips, but we haven’t flown for a holiday in 7 years.

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This December, an art display in Jardin des Plantes, Paris

All the countries of the world are coming together in Paris – and leaders of the world will be there to start it off. It could be a ‘moment’ when we as a human race choose to make a strong agreement between countries that clearly provides a way for us to transform our over-reliance on carbon towards renewables. Crucially, we could decide to do this in a way that is just and fair for people living in poverty. It’s a really big deal.

And I realise, now, that the strength of our collective lifestyle changes and our connected voice, is incredibly precious. While I am in Paris, my family will be marching in London on Sunday as part of our journey. If you’re not planning on doing so already, you are warmly invited to join them in this march, or on any of the other ones around the UK, and also to join us in prayer.

 

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