FROM OCT. 31 TO NOV. 12, the most important meetings of our times will happen in Glasgow, Scotland. There, COP26, which means 26th Conference of the Parties, will occur.
One hundred or more world leaders, including U.S. President Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to attend.
Since 1994, with the signing of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty, the world has been working on ways to slowdown, stop or mitigate the risks of climate change. Every year or so, they meet to decide how best to achieve targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At this point, countries are not even wanting to stop climate change. The best hope is that climate change will be restricted to a 1.5 degrees Celsius average global increase this century. Even that would have consequences that we already know: increased wildfires, stronger weather events, droughts, displacement of climate refugees, and loss of life.
So far, average temperatures have increased 1.1 degrees Celsius, and life is already becoming more difficult. One would think that there would be a strong push to reduce global emissions of carbon.
But in these days leading up to COP26, countries have only agreed to changes that would reduce temperature increases to 2.7 degrees Celsius. Without stronger commitments and follow through, the UN warns the 2.7 degrees Celsius increase will lead to unliveable conditions in much of the world.
It is a good thing that countries are joining together to reduce emissions, but we are a long way from tenable solutions, and even farther from putting words into actions.
But what does this mean here in Kamloops? What is it that we can do? After another wildfire season from hell, we know things need to change. But what can Kamloops, a small city far from the centre of power, do to affect a global phenomenon?
First, and foremost, the community can come together to voice their concerns. Nov. 6 is the COP26: Global Day of Action for the Climate 2021. Around the world, climate groups and community members will gather to raise their voices.
Here in Kamloops, there will be an event Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. at Stuart Wood School sponsored by Transition Kamloops and the Kamloops Climate Cafe.
Politicians sign treaties, but individuals raising their voices are what makes change happen.
When smoking was banned in indoor venues, it was politicians who implemented bylaws. But it was grassroots community members, who knew the harm smoking caused, that pushed and pushed to have the changes made.
When drunk driving fines and criminal charges were made more severe, it was politicians who passed legislation. But it was mothers of victims of drunk drivers, horrified and in grief because of the carnage, who made sure the changes happened.
When the Dutch built thousand of miles of bicycle infrastructure to allow people to easily and safely cycle, it was politicians who made money available. But it was individuals having ongoing “die ins” on the streets of Dutch cities to protest cyclists’ deaths who drove home the need for safer streets for cyclists.
Nov. 6 is the day to raise voices telling politicians that the climate change disaster will kill more people than smoking, drunk driving and bicycle accidents combined unless meaningful actions are made.
If people think that climate change will be solved in Glasgow at COP26, they are wrong. The only way climate change will be addressed locally, provincially or federally is if our politicians know that we are not going to tolerate the ongoing threats of climate change. Our voices need to be heard.
COP26 is happening a world away. But real change happens here. Come to Kamloops’ Global Day of Action for the Climate on Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. at Stuart Wood and help make change happen.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.