In September, Birmingham hosted the Green Party Conference, flooding Aston University campus with environmentalists from across the UK and beyond. Friends of the Earth ran a stall and participated in panel discussions. National FoE Climate and Energy Campaigner Donna Hume was in the limelight of the debate on the impending UN Climate Conference in Paris in 2015.

In the aftermath of the disastrous Copenhagen Climate Summit, the Paris Climate Conference is believed to be the last chance to reach global consensus on action against global warming. Green MEP Jean Lambert chaired a panel dedicated to this issue. The two speakers, Bolivian Ambassador Roberto Calzadilla and national FoE Campaigner Donna Hume, represented two voices that most need to be heard in Paris – the voice of the developing countries and the people’s voice.

Hopes of the developing world

Roberto Calzadilla said he was looking forward to the Parisian promise of new policy to replace the Kyoto Protocol. He could not stress more that global warming has already had catastrophic repercussions on the developing world, adamant that Western humanitarian missions should include subsidies for sustainable development and climate change mitigation. Roberto emphasised that the political concept of sustainable development needs to move away from constant reiteration of its potential for the new businesses and markets, instead turning to the essentials such as harmony with nature and living well.

What UK citizens need to ask?

Donna Hume’s speech was similarly optimistic. According to Donna, the main stumbling point on the way to action against global warming is the ‘lack of political will’. This can only be countered by widespread public action. Donna added that progress in talks can only be influenced by people’s demands, such as a push for fixed EU emission targets, stopping British politicians from blocking negotiations. UK citizens should call for moratorium on fracking, funding for renewables, creation of a national energy strategy and abolition of government funding of fossil fuel companies.

What NGOs need to do

Donna also stated that green NGOs need to be more transparent and accessible. They should stop using jargon and address common needs in common language, encouraging more people to join action groups. Moreover, these groups need to improve communication and become united nationally and internationally. Finally, a new generation of community projects like ‘Run on Sun’ must become commonplace, since this is a great way to plant eco-ideas in the most fertile soil – schools, children and families.

Wind in our direction

Donna concluded with a saying: ‘the wind is blowing in our direction; it just needs a bit of push’. This hopeful statement is a promise that climate issues will be tackled if we as citizens pledge to champion change – little by little, doing what we can. We have all the necessary tools, so let’s start!

Lija Lascenko