The ride to Paris and the events there were extraordinary. I certainly came back much changed.
I witnessed the glacial pace of the negotiated agreements that have been reached since 1992. Every country seeking to protect its own short term political and business interests, and seemingly no-one able to take a long term view of the common good. At the same time I saw the energy of the activists on the street demanding that our governments do better by us and knew from the people we met on the way that we all recognise the need for radical change.
An agreement was reached between 196 countries in 2015 that moved things forward a few inches, and many people saw that as a tremendous achievement. Even before the ink was dry the science was saying that this is nowhere near enough to pull us back from the cliff edge. For me this merely illustrated the inability of a political process governed by business interests to implement the changes we need. It seemed to me a massive failure of politics and made me think that personal energy spent on conventional electoral political goals was frankly a waste of time and quite likely counter-productive.
A wise person once said that only when hope dies can effective action begin. The point being that hope can be a block to actually doing anything – if we are hoping for rescue then we may not act to save ourselves. Once there is no hope left then the only course is to get off our backsides and do something.
Well what can a poor boy do as The Stones once asked. For me the political road had reached a dead end – blocked by massive corporate interests. In our current situation it seems that politics can not change the system that structures our lives. And system change is what is needed above all else.
My personal response for the past two years has been to focus on two aspects – building my own and my family personal resilience to changes that might be coming, and reading and learning lessons from what has happened in the past – in particular the spectacular failure of the eco-green movement that sprang up in the early 1970’s in response to the first general awareness of the impacts of our activity on the eco-systems of which we are a part.
So why am I getting back on the saddle and continuing the journey from Paris to Bonn? Well if the ride to Paris was primarily about delivering the Climate Vision report to delegates and contacts there, this time I want to bring back to people in our communities a fresh perspective on what is happening at the UN level and what we should do to respond to and drive the process forward.
I want to meet other activists from around the globe and find out how they are facing the challenges ahead. I want to understand better how this process works and fails us. I want to come back and tell people about this so that they too can wake up to the inability of the system to change itself and then
Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many – they are few.