COP24: 4 things we need to tackle climate change, according to Christiana Figueres

This article was originally written by Cat Leggat.

Today marks the first day of the Katowice Climate Change Conference, including the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties, popularly referred to as COP24.  This year's gathering in Poland is critical in ensuring the 2015 Paris Agreement, born out of COP21, sticks. Three years on from when the historic agreement was first signed, the 197 countries participating in the conference are expected to establish a 'rule book' outlining plans to ensure all countries uphold their commitments. 

To commemorate the start of the highly anticipated gathering, we take a look back at Christiana Figueres' speech from the latest One Young World 2018 The Hague Summit; she is the Convener of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She is known as the architect of the Paris Agreement.

Referencing the recently published IPCC report, Figueres called attention to the different worlds we will see at 1.5°C and 2°C; because at 2 degrees we will have a world of increasing damage and destruction, whereas under 1.5 that is still true but at a rate we would be able to tackle.

What inspiration did the leader on climate change have for the delegates? Figueres advised that we needed to view the solutions to climate change as a global gym - we need to train muscles that we have not had to train before. Figueres shared her choice of muscles that we can all train:

1. Deep listening - “You cannot move to solutions without understanding the problem”

Effective solutions will only be achieved if we honour and respect the differences of everyone; if we choose to understand the needs and pains of those across the table from us.

2. Passionate engagement - “It’s about saying I’m giving my life to this”

Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to contribute it’s about realising this has to be more than a 9-5 job, dedicating yourself to the cause.

3. Radical collaboration - “Silo thinking is so 5 minutes ago”

We need collaboration the likes of which we have never seen, we need to step outside our bubble and bring together industry, NGOs, governments, people of different genders, races, ages and geographies.

4. Stubborn optimism - “Have you ever in history seen any achievement starting with pessimism?”

Optimism must be the input into the challenges that appear in front of us; just because there is a barrier, it does not mean that we give up. If you start with optimism you may not know exactly where you’re going, but you know you will get there. Figueres welcomed everyone in the room to a growing family of stubborn optimists around the world.

In successfully bringing these muscles together, we will be able to move beyond simply improving statistics, because, she said, “that is necessary, but categorically not enough”.