My name is Mark Dodd. For the last several months, I have spoken out for a just transition for the economy. As a union activist, I have actively defended workers and fought for workers’ rights to be respected and protected. As an international trade unionist, I have fought for workers, the environment and other workers’ rights around the world. And as a committed humanitarian, I have fought tirelessly for a world that takes care of all its people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
However, I have found myself quiet for the last two weeks. I have been exhausted and even angry and frustrated by the level of deception and disinformation surrounding COP26 in Geneva and, more specifically, the UNFCCC Conference, where the G77 and China delivered a disappointing statement asserting “no One Planet” while negotiators downplayed the role of emission reductions and human rights in mitigating climate change.
After participating in the UNFCCC conference in Switzerland, I spent a few days in my hometown of Glasgow, where I was able to take on climate change at the Hays Dressing Room in Merchant City. I am also in the middle of a busy summer course on climate change at University of Greenwich so I was able to take time off my studies.
At the Hays Dressing Room, we put on a series of presentations illustrating the very real impacts that climate change will have on the United Kingdom in the coming years.
The opening presentation was delivered by Sally Cutter, Head of Change, Customer and Commercial Affairs at the UN Environment Programme’s Montreal headquarters. Ms. Cutter’s presentation focuses on some of the recent catastrophes caused by climate change; particularly Hurricanes Florence and Michael which make landfall at Christmas in the U.S. She emphasized that these storms are a preview of what is to come as climate change impacts become more frequent and more severe.
Now I’m on vacation, and as a global citizen I am asking myself the following question: What is my position on climate change? Where do I stand on the changes required to prepare for climate change? Can I find solutions that are not only effective, but also fair, humane and capable of inspiring us to leave our young children a planet that is safer, cleaner and healthier?
It seems as though we have our work cut out for us.
I would argue that we have a choice in how we do business – an opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change.
I would like to commit to working for the reform of the UNFCCC and for the implementation of the Copenhagen Accord. My concern is that the way we are currently acting on climate change has resulted in a “doing business as usual” approach to the matter. We have been missing the opportunity to generate and champion a path towards a just transition for the economy. I strongly believe that this shift must be seen as part of the opportunity that we have to undertake the reform and resourcing of the UNFCCC and to do so with urgency.
The UNFCCC cannot be called the UN without making changes in who leads and what is done. I would like to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mrs. Hammond – who sat in on the meetings in which climate change will be discussed this year – as a co-chair of the reform of the UNFCCC. I would like to see a government of our country who says we have a responsibility to climate change and to make sure the world is safe and healthy for our children and our grandchildren.
I would like to work on the distribution of funds, no matter what level they are allocated at, to make sure that Africa and Latin America receive a minimum level of funding. Money must be distributed more fairly and fairly funds must be distributed to regions which have suffered most as a result of climate change and as such deserve the highest level of funding.
I believe in the cause. I believe that while we will do something very valuable for our future generations, we will do something very significant to our global reputation for fairness and to open the doors for us to move forward with the reforms we need.
We can collectively solve this problem together – both globally and locally, as local communities are where true social change can begin. And global cooperation in the face of climate change can offer a much needed economic and social spark for us to build.
Mark Dodd is the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Affairs Coordinator for the Climate and Community Change Network UK (CCCUK) and Director of Change’s Need.