Every year, Climate Reality Leaders across the globe mobilize for a day of action tocreate an enormous wave of simultaneous advocacy that spans over 24 hours worldwide. I must admit that initially, this annual event, called 24 Hours of Reality, raised scepticism in me: it doesn’t take an expert to know that the climate crisis will not be resolved in one day. However, it does take mass grassroots mobilization to create the political will that is needed to create the change required; and for this purpose, 24 Hours of Reality is an unprecedented and unique approach to raising awareness and stimulating action globally. We have the science, the knowledge, and civil society’s engagement… Now, we must get our politicians to act. For real, this time.
This year, the theme of 24 Hours of Reality is #Let’sGetReal. I like it because itis exactly what this event is about. We don’t have time for empty political statements, greenwashing discourses, and unambitious environmental laws. We need extreme, immediate action for an extreme situation.
Last 24 Hours of Reality, I did a climate change presentation, online due to the pandemic, and open to everyone. It was my first one as Climate Reality Leader, and though I was nervous, it was such an exciting challenge for me. Indeed, it’s easy to feel powerless on this topic, especially as a youth activist, and hearing feedback and questions for my audience gave me hope for the future and strength to continue the fight for climate and social justice. I truly felt like I was making an impact and I truly believe you will feel the same if you join the movement on October 29th.
My hope is that this year, everyone feels concerned about climate change. Regardless of background or location, we all share this planet and therefore, we have a shared responsibility towards it. A responsibility to honour and land back to the Indigenous communities that have always been the guardians of the land. A responsibility towards the myriad of species that are disappearing because of us. A responsibility to build a better future for all, together.
This year is particularly crucial. We are a few days away from COP26, and nothing is more urgent than getting real with our politicians. We need to shift away completely from fossil fuels, we need social justice, and we need it now. What is COP again you might ask? The Conference of the Parties is the convention on climate change where the 196 states (as well as the European Union) that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meet to negotiate international climate policy. These international meetings are an opportunity for states to take stockof their action in favour of the climate, and to discuss what should be done to avoid aggravating the disruption of the climate system. With approximately 30,000 participants, it’s simply the biggest global convention on climate change.
If this event has been criticized for its lack of strong action, however, it is thanks to the signing of the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015 that nearly every country committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, on a 5-year cycle of climate actions, with intent to increase those commitments over time. It was a turning point in the history of COPs, with a clear objective: limit global warming to a level well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to the pre-industrial level. In order to reach this goal, countries are due to submit their new climate action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), this year. Canada just published its 2021 edition, with a commitment of 40-45% emission reductions below 2005 levels by 2030. This rise of 10-15% from the original 2017 NDC is still inadequate, as Canada is warmingat twice the rate of any other country and still has ongoing oil and gas pipeline projects. Indeed, Canada is among the top 10 global greenhouse gas polluters, thereby considerably contributing to climate change, and must therefore do its fair share to mitigate the crisis. In April 2021, seven Canadian environmental organizations commissioned research into how Canada can achieve its fair share of emission reductions. The backgrounder report found that Canada would have to achieve at least 60% reductions by 2030. This is an ambitious, but not impossible goal; and COP26 is the occasion to put an end to half measures and impose bolder action.
This is why, for this year’s 24 Hours of Reality, we are centering our Calls to Actionto the public around COP26. We are offering concrete ways for citizens everywhere to join Climate Reality Leaders across the world in taking action for the climate on October 29th. For more information and to pledgeto participate, head to www.24hoursofreality.org.
On October 29th, #Letsgetreal… together!