We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how the shifting political ground of recent months affects the project of opening up a new and wider space for climate civics around the world. As some political forces seem to be arrayed against serious progress on mitigating climate change, we see the role of local, national, and supranational citizen participation in climate policy as more vital and consequential than ever.
We are, as a world community, far beyond the debate about whether the climate is changing as a result of human activity; we are now living in a divergent climate future, where local human-scale impacts are accumulating quickly, and budgets, in both the public and private sectors, are struggling to cope with the cost. Whether in South Florida, Southeastern Nigeria, rural mountain villages in Nepal, on the far Siberian tundra, or in the heart of Sydney, people are facing serious climate impacts and related public health and safety challenges.
Mass migration is worsening, and sudden extreme weather events, which are now more common, are displacing more people, making them vulnerable to human traffickers and other predatory criminal networks. The human story needs to be part of the policy discussion, because this is no longer an abstract debate about whose views of the future are more convincing. What is happening to Earth’s climate is a unifying disruptive experience that increasingly defines the world we inhabit.
2017 looks to be a year of historic turnings: some believe old institutions are under threat from populist upheavals; others see revolutionary advances in quantum computing, energy storage, and private space science as heralding a new age of expanded human capability. Many see both happening and wonder what public policy will do to balance such divergent new priorities with basic human needs and vulnerabilities.
The future is always upon us, and now, more than ever, we should all have a say in how, and for whom, it is designed.
So, the work of building, activating, deepening, and expanding the Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network takes on a new relevance, and enters a new phase. We are testing a technical information-sharing and global convening solution, to make it possible for people to gather locally, engage government at all levels, and deliver their ideas, improvements, active projects, and perspectives, directly into the intergovernmental negotiating process.
An unpolluted climate system is everyone’s right.
While people in high office debate who should do how much to secure our climate future, people around the world are closer than ever to being able to add their ideas and priorities to the global climate policy conversation. Working together allows us to amplify the best thinking, the local needs and priorities, and the already active capabilities of people living and working in communities. We can, and must, harness all of this human capacity to ensure that the transition away from climate-forcing energy production is definitive and irreversible.
- If you want to be part of this effort, make sure to Join the Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network and start hosting local meetings.
- To read the CCE proposal for public participation reform in the UNFCCC process, go to engage4climate.org/unfccc
- If you would like to join a local Citizens’ Climate Lobby group, or start a new one, visit CitizensClimateLobby.org