It’s early in the morning on Friday 4 November and I am standing outside the United Nations in New York. A year ago, I was a relative newcomer to Greenpeace, preparing to attend the COP in Paris. The Greenpeace team was mobilising to push governments to adopt an ambitious international climate agreement.
Naomi Ages at work during the COP21 in Paris. 10/12/2015 © Christophe Calais / Signatures / Greenpeace
Fast-forward to 12 December 2015, when the team gathered in the media centre to watch country after country commit itself to the Paris Agreement, a remarkable step forward in international cooperation to tackle climate change. It was a moment of great hope and a moment where we knew we’d have to recommit ourselves to make sure action followed.
Which brings me back to Friday morning. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a meeting of civil society organisations to thank us for our work in making the Paris Agreement happen, and to ask us how we’re bringing it to life. On behalf of the International Executive Directors and the entire Greenpeace organisation, I highlighted that some of the work Greenpeace does around the world to make sure that Paris is not just “words on paper”, as the Secretary-General warned.
What was I thinking, other than ‘don’t mess up this important moment’? I was thinking of the work the global Greenpeace organisation has done, for years, well before Paris, to make this possible. I was thinking of my colleagues foregoing food and sleep in Paris to ensure the Agreement called for 1.5 degrees. I was thinking of Joanna Susteno from Tacloban, whose life has already been upended by climate change, and the work we need to do to bring justice to the people who have contributed the least to climate change.
People were at the centre of the message I brought to the UN this morning. People who believe that we want a different future, and are working to create it. There is an unstoppable global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. There is a wave of climate justice legal actions unfolding because people are demanding climate leadership from corporations and governments. And there is also optimism that a 100% renewable energy future is possible.
Greenpeace’s ship Rainbow Warrior is in Morocco right now, at the conclusion of her Sun Unites Us Tour, highlighting solar energy’s immense potential. Greenpeace, along with civil society, will continue to show up to support this people-powered vision for a better world, because Paris was only the beginning. The hard work is ongoing, and it can’t happen quickly enough.
Since COP22 is happening right now, why not submit your photo to the Sun Unites Us website and be a part of the #sununitesus mosaic Greenpeace is building!
Naomi Ages is a climate liability campaigner with Greenpeace US