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Climate tips from the oracle, Christiana Figueres

Climate tips from the oracle, Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres was the 'chief shepherd' of the Paris Agreement - and by herding a bunch of the most reluctant cats on the planet into that agreement, she created what has become the cornerstone of hope for the future of our children

On 21 May 2020, Christiana Figueres met with 1 million women and I was there. I have to admit to having a girl crush on Christiana Figueres ever since she achieved the Paris Climate Agreement. Her brand of wisdom has the world view of someone who grew up among power and who personally used her power to change the course of history, but who is also a classic servant leader. Her father was Costa Rica's President 3 times, her mother the Costa Rican Ambassador to Israel and her best mate is an ex Buddhist monk. 

This morning I watched her on the One Million Women meetup where she was talking about climate change and the book, "THE FUTURE WE CHOOSE - Surviving the Climate Crisis"; which she co-authored with former Buddhist monk Tom Rivett-Carnac.

It was magical watching someone with her background traverse with equal dexterity, questions of girl power and global leadership on the 1 Million Women event. One of the great advantages of having had big political power is that you understand how power is legitimized and lost. And you also know that millions of citizens like women and girls aggregate to a collective force so girl power, particularly as it is so lacking globally, is no small thing. Women will and are changing the world - grassroots change is gathering momentum.

Figueres points out that post COVID, $15 – 20 trillion in capital is being injected into the global markets over the next 18 months. The quantum is eye watering and is unprecedented in the history of humanity, so it's no surprise that the big question on every set of spirulina green lips right now is what the funds are going to be invested in. The amount of investment dwarfs any amount ever declared to be needed to mitigate climate change, and it now needs to encapsulate it.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE OUR CLIMATE POSITION IN RELATION TO 2030? WHILE WE MAY TECHNICALLY HAVE UNTIL 2030 TO HALVE OUR EMISSIONS, WE REALLY ONLY HAVE THESE 18 MONTHS OF FUNDS TO DO IT. HOW POST COVID FUNDS ARE DEPLOYED WILL DETERMINE THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IS HIGH CARBON BASED OR LOW CARBON BASED.

Leaders are acting - and some pretty badly. Donald Trump is doing what you would expect, but others like Justin Trudeau is already mapping out Canada's position, requiring climate mitigation with any funds invested in the big end of town.

Figueres points out however that if we need to use whatever influence we have to ensure that recovery packages are green, inclusive and don’t leave the vulnerable behind. Missing any one of those points is an economic, social and political time bomb.

Natalie Isaacs from 1 Million Women asked Figueres what were the 3 things an individual can do to make an impact. Figueres has 10 points in her book, but in response, in the context of COVID, she made these 5:


  1. Never forget the COVID moment. 
  2. Resist the temptation to get on a plane and fly 3 times around the world to hug someone. Rethink business travel, commuting to work.

    Leisure travel. Don’t give it up. Is important for our souls, but don't go for miles just for a 2 day trip. If you go a long way, stay for longer. Our choices have a huge impact as they determine what airlines, car manufacturing do next.
  3.  Eat the food from your own country. Don't eat food you don't need that has travelled halfway around the world.
  4. Engage in politics. Take to the streets. Demand responsible policy in every country. Engage in civil disobedience. 
  5. See yourself as a citizen, not as a consumer. Systemic transformations can only be achieved by governments and corporations, but the power of individuals has been demonstrated in COVID. Every country must protect their citizens. Governments must be accountable to protect their citizens for climate as well as COVID.

And finally, the subject of Girl Power, Figueres says:

"WE NEED TO USE BOTH LEGS TO GET AROUND. WHEN WE USE ONLY ONE LEG, THE MALE LEG, WE HOP. WE NEED TO USE BOTH LEGS – MALE AND FEMALE – IMAGINE HOW FAR WE WOULD GET USING BOTH."



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