Opinion: COP21 – My New Year’s resolution

Climate Countdown poster.

By Kaia Rose


My New Year’s resolution on January 1st of this year was that I would be in Paris for COP21 in December.  I didn’t know what I would be doing, whether I would be inside the negotiating space or outside on the streets, but I had 11 months to sort out the details. Fast forward to today and not only do I have a ticket to Paris, but I am going as the director of Climate Countdown, a web-series that is mapping the ecology of climate solutions.  So how did I get into all of this?  


Like many of my friends and colleagues, I was concerned about climate change but frankly thought we had missed our window of opportunity to do anything about it.  So when I learned that our window is still open, I thought – why don’t I know about this?  I consider myself a well-informed person but until I took an online course on climate change last autumn I had no idea what a COP was or that 2015 was being talked about as our last chance to avoid a climate crisis. The more I learned about the ways that we could still tackle the problem of climate change, the more empowered I became to do something about it.



So I decided – if 2015 was the year for action, I had to join the fight.  As a filmmaker, my first instinct was to make a film about it. I began going to climate events in New York City meeting activists, academics, and like-minded people. As our team grew, an idea emerged: let’s make a conversational web-series with episodes released throughout the year that focuses on what people are actually doing to tackle the climate crisis as we head towards Paris.


The topics of the episodes emerged organically; finishing each episode led us to the questions we needed to explore next. We began with a desire to tell the story of COP21 in an accessible way, without all the jargon that so often accompanies UN processes.  After attending the first session of climate negotiations in Bonn, our scope widened to include what needs to happen around the negotiations to help implement the decisions made in Paris.  There is no single silver-bullet solution to climate change; the solution is multi-faceted and includes people from many disciplines. To tackle this problem, we need everyone and we are hoping to provide the audience with entry points for their own individual place of empowerment.


Recently, as an on-camera conversation I was having in Boston turned to the subject of trees, I was hit with the realization that we are on a journey to map out the ecology of climate solutions. This journey takes us to Paris in less than one week. As the negotiations get underway, we will be tracing the ecology of COP21, including the evolution of the Agreement, how the INDCs get incorporated, how financing is addressed, and what other climate actions are pledged by the stakeholders in Paris.  By the end of this once-in-a-lifetime summit, we want to know – we need to know – where we stand and what must happen next. 

The future of our world is being decided this December, but the Paris Agreement is not the end – it is only the beginning. As global citizens, we need to know what is being decided on our behalf and hold our governments accountable in the years ahead. We need to ensure that commitments made in Paris are carried out and that these are made more ambitious as we move forward. The stakes are high, the necessary transformation is huge – but we can do this. Join Climate Countdown and together let’s build the political will to make this happen.


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