“I remember when people talked about climate everyday”, I fear I have to tell this sentence to my children in the future. I feel that the debate about climate change and the environment has suddenly gotten quiet and there are several reasons for that.
The Danish “skeptical environmentalist” Morten Lomborg made climate change a much debated issue in Denmark in the beginning of the decade. Then the IPCC published their report on the environment and later won the Nobel peace prize, in those years people still talked regularly about the issues we are facing now and in the future. People not agreed but it was an issue that was debated in the media and in the public. The culmination probably came in 2009 with the COP15 in Copenhagen. For months the media had build-up to this groundbreaking moment that completely failed in so many ways.
One could say there was an over-kill of information. And today we see the consequences. In addition to this, we also had a black President in the USA, a financial crisis, an Arab Spring and an up-coming election in for example Denmark and the UK. These issues suddenly started to fill up the pages in the newspaper. They are a part of the problem but they could also be a part of the solution.
We cannot forget the environment in the public debate. It seems like the more the scientists agree that climate change is real and serious, the less the public discuss what to do about it. One can now live a more or less “commercial” environmental friendly life-style with fair-trade and organic products – yet people still fly to Thailand on holiday. Being aware of the environment has become so main-stream that no one really focuses on it anymore (at least in Western Europe). As I said, a part of the problems are all the other issues in the news, but we need to combine these with the debate about the climate and the future.
The financial crisis could mean that people travel less or that “Green companies” get more funding from the governments.
The up-coming election in Denmark could focus on “Green tech” and the environment instead on closed borders and taxes.
The Arab Spring could be changed into an Climate oriented spring in the region with loads of new parties being created in for example Egypt.
We need to take the issues of today and turn them back into the debate about the climate change.
Take 20 newly educated climate ambassadors; put them together in a room with a laptop, a data show and a white board, and within minutes you will have a highly engaged discussion going on! This was what happened Friday 3rd June 2011 when we gathered 20 of our national climate ambassadors at MS ActionAid’s facilities in Amman to share achievements and experiences from the first month of their lives as climate ambassadors. Several of the ambassadors had been very active and they were more than eager to tell about their accomplishments. Among the activities they had conducted were environmental lectures at schools, plant-a-tree events and a theatre play about youth leadership and environment. The young Jordanians are so creative!
Several times during the meeting I was thinking that our presence as facilitators was superfluous – the national climate ambassadors were conducting the meeting just great without us! They were sharing experiences and giving each other tips and advices on how to overcome the challenges they are facing as ambassadors for the environment. Moreover, they were very eager in getting engaged with campaign activities – and I am really looking forward to see what they have of brilliant ideas! The best part of the day was experiencing the spirit of the group – they are really supporting each other and doing a great job in their society. So come along and take part in the wave of active environmental citizenship!