I am writing this at the start of the Climate Change talks in Paris after an inspiring week that has left me hopeful that we can overcome the huge challenges we are facing from climate change.
On Monday night I joined over 80 other interested people from Cambridge to watch a filming of This Changes Everything, based on Naomi Klein’s stimulating book of the same name. Her basic question was “What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?” The film showed a number of examples of small groups of people (not unlike Cambridge Carbon Footprint!) banding together to defend what they believe in, with incredible results. Not only were they able to prevent hugely detrimental development plans which would have destroyed their local environment, but in doing so they transformed their communities into more supportive, sustainable places to live.
Which leads me onto Wednesday evening, when the Cambridge Buddhist Centre held a debate on the motion “Transformation of mind is the solution to the environmental crisis.” There was strong support for the argument that we need to change our thoughts, habits and attitudes if we are ultimately to stop climate change – moving away from the belief that material goods will bring us satisfaction and recognising that a simpler, more sustainable life can bring us much happiness. However, there was also serious doubt about whether just changing minds would be enough and that more immediate action was needed. In many ways this tallies with CCF’s view that change is needed at the personal, industrial and governmental level. Ultimately the debate was tied, with equal numbers of votes for and against the motion, but what was encouraging was the number of people willing to engage in the topic and seriously question how their beliefs and lifestyle inform their approach to the environment.
Which leads me onto Sunday, and attending the Climate Change March in London with other individuals who had recognised the need to speak out in defence of the environment. The march was truly inspirational, both in terms of its scale (some 50,000 people joined the march in the biggest climate event the UK’s ever seen, according to The Climate Coalition) and the range of people attending – young and old; rich and poor; alternative and conventional – all were represented.
The only downside on the week was our return to Cambridge, where on boarding the bus home we hit a huge traffic jam. On a late Sunday afternoon this could only have been caused by the frenzy of early Christmas shopping – proving that there is still a long way to go to change the consumer based attitude of the vast majority of UK residents.
Which leads me onto CCF’s upcoming Circular Cambridge campaign, promoting “living well with less” – but more on that in future blogs!