The IPCC’s latest report is categorical: unless we act now, dramatic changes in global temperatures will occur by the end of the century. The message is loud and clear: it is a call to action of the utmost urgency. In between the COP20 in Lima and the 2015 COP 21 summit in Paris, there is a window of opportunity. A mass mobilisation, allying citizens, activists and politicians, is the only way to breathe life back into a negotiations process in dead-lock. On this there is consensus. But how can we achieve it?
At a time when representative democracy is said to be in crisis, when citizens are finding new ways to engage politically, and above all when economic concerns drown out all other discussions, how do we put the fight against climate change back at the top of the agenda, both for politicians sitting at negotiating tables and for citizens who may feel that other problems are of more pressing and more tangible significance in their own lives? This is the common thread runs through the articles that make up this edition.
We need to tell the climate story in a way that inspires people to act for change, both in their own lives and through their political representatives. We need to reconnect the topic of climate change to people’s daily lives and to avoid overwhelming them with a sense of powerlessness over an issue that seems abstract and global in scale.
We need to join the dots so that it becomes clear that many of the questions now seen in isolation (energy, pollution, jobs, poverty, migration etc.) are intrinsically bound up with one another, and that genuine change – that is also fair and democratic – can only be achieved by adopting a vision which includes all of these aspects.
The three parts of this edition correspond to three key dimensions of this challenge. We start by going back to the beginning of the global climate negotiations process, to trace the roots of the current impasse and the current weakness of the EU’s position in the global debates. We then return to the here and now to identify the main strategy and focus of Greens at the EU level in the run-up to Paris, and how this differs with the approach adopted hitherto.
The second dimension concerns the increasingly influential role of civil society actors, whether NGOs or grassroots initiatives. Building a strong link with these civil movements is crucial. But some have established themselves outside of or even in opposition to the political sphere, in protest at the lack of action. For Green political actors, this presents a serious challenge to forging a strong alliance with these actors and speaking with a common voice. Opening a dialogue is a first and essential step towards building a robust and complimentary coalition to amplify the message on the need for action.
We end with the local, regional and national levels. How do seemingly isolated issues, such as regional conflicts, localised natural phenomena or social tensions, impinge on the climate action needed at the global level? Putting these issues and debates in comparative perspective allows us to begin to draw parallels between contexts and cases which seem irreconcilably distinct.
While this edition does not provide a fixed roadmap for the way head, the ideas it contains provide leads for a new way of thinking and talking about the climate. Efforts taking place all around the world, whether in Parliament chambers, city halls or allotments, contribute to providing the basis for a renewed approach, enthusiasm and hope for what can be achieved if a genuine movement in the spirit global solidarity takes hold. The main challenge ahead now, is for those with the common aim of seeing a climate policy that is just, democratic and effective, to join forces and speak to power with a message loud enough that it will be impossible to ignore.