19 Nov March for the climate (November 29)
All sustainable, recycling and tree loving people unite! On 29 November there will be a climate march in the city centre of Amsterdam: “de klimaatparade”. This march is related to this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, which is held from 30 November till 11 December. Why do people feel the need to march for the climate? And how can you contribute to the parade?
Climate Change Conference
The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, also known as the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), has a long fancy name and almost 200 participating countries. The Climate Change Conferences have been taking place since 1992 and aim for a stabilisation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to a level that won’t affect the climate. In the sixties and seventies, scientists first mentioned global warming and the link to the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The most likely cause for this increase: mankind. This discovery forced the international political community to act, resulting in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto protocol in 1997. Over the years, this convention has been renewed a few times.
In 2012, there was a conference in Copenhagen about the protocol which would follow the Kyoto protocol. This time the main goals were to keep the global rise in temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to found the ‘Green Climate Fund’, which would support countries affected by the climate changes. However, this settlement was not legally binding and some of the countries did not even recognise the protocol. This led to a lot of criticism from, among others, NGOs.
Since there will be another conference in December of this year, the critical comments from the NGOs have become louder and louder. They urge our political leaders to make a stricter protocol, forcing countries all over the world to reduce their CO2 emission, which could result in a slow down or even a stop in global warming.
Does science agree with NGOs like Greenpeace and Oxfam Novib, who are protesting? They do. Not only do all scientists agree that global temperature has risen, most of them also believe this is caused by an increase in greenhouse gasses produced by humankind. According to the Environment Council (ENV) the global warming should not be more than two degrees Celsius. To remain under this limit, there should be a CO2 reduction of (at least) 50 percent relative to 1990, before 2050. So, the scientists and NGOs seem to agree. But why haven’t these climate conferences led to stricter protocols?
One of the reasons NGOs and other protesters are focused on getting their voices heard is lobby groups. Lobby groups of fossil fuel companies might have a role in the mild CO2 emission regulations. According to an article in ‘De Volkskrant’ (Dutch newspaper) on November 5, 2015, lobbyists from electric power companies are the most frequent visitors of the European Commissioner of Climate Action and Energy. This means they might be able to influence the decision-making in Brussels. Unfortunately, these lobby groups will also be present during the conference in Paris. Of course it is their democratic right to be there. However, attending the meetings in Paris requires a high fee, which most NGOs and “normal people” can’t afford, but big companies can. As far as I know, it is still unclear how the UN responded to criticism about this situation and whether they are willing to do something about it.
To provide an opposing force against the lobby groups and to show how many people care about the climate changes, protests are organised, not only in Paris but all over the world. The NGOs behind these demonstrations are, among others, Greenpeace, Oxfam Novib and Avaaz. The idea behind it is also to make clear to everyone how urgent the climate problems are. They try to provide an open, happy and positive atmosphere to show we care about our planet.
Do you want to join the Climate march in Amsterdam (de Klimaatparade) on 29 November? It will start and finish at Museum Square (Museumplein) and everyone is welcome to join. Visit their website (Dutch) or Facebook page for more information.
What do you think about these demonstrations? Are they useful or just a waste of time? Let me know in the comments below!