Challenging Climate Change

By Dory Mcintosh

A December anniversary!  Seven years ago I wrote a blog from COP 15 – the Copenhagen Climate Change summit – and described the peaks and troughs of that gathering.  The peaks included the buzz of hope, the sense of a time come, and the possibility of action after so many years. The troughs were deep though – the dismal predictions laid out by Al Gore and the final inability of the politicians and negotiators to make any concrete progress.

In the years since Copenhagen there has been little tangible progress – not until the 2015 Paris summit and the last minute grab at holding global temperatures below 2 degrees warming.   This magical figure represents the cut-off point before positive feedback mechanisms starts to kick in – the thawing of the arctic tundra, the melting of the Greenland ice shelf, the loss of the Amazonian rain forest – any of which could trigger runaway global warming.  At Paris, hopes peaked again as countries around the world put aside their differences and replaced them with the first tangible agreements.

However, the troughs are back with a vengeance. Twenty days from now Donald Trump will assume the mantle of the President of the US. Twenty days from now the man who has declared climate change a “hoax” is likely to sweep away the results of two decades of climate change negotiations.

20160713_114609So how is climate change relevant to you as a Challenges Worldwide ICS volunteer?

Developing countries are going to be the worst hit by climate change. Basic food crops will be lost to rising temperatures while water supplies from rainfall and glacial melt are already in decline. Not only will developing countries be most affected by climate-related changes but they don’t have the resilience to ride them out.

That is where you come in. You will be building resilience through your work in strengthening companies and creating jobs – jobs that will help families to be more independent and have the means to better cope with economic shocks.  Some of you will also work with renewable energy companies – companies that are trying to provide practical solutions to both energy shortages and the challenge of climate change.

Whatever happens on the political front after the 20th January this building of resilience will improve the chances of people in developing countries and give a glimmer of hope in uncertain times.