Paris Agreement – a moment in history or just hot air?

The agreement has gaps, compromises and shortfalls. Some of the key points are outside the legally binding section and even the legally binding section will be difficult to enforce in international law, but that’s not the point.

We should stop looking for loopholes and instead look at the symbolic nature of this agreement. The tide is changing and the agreed text between nearly 200 countries represents a change in how we choose to govern ourselves. It’s a step away from the short-term obsessive quest for GDP growth and quarterly earnings growth and starts to think about the true costs of how we live.

For decades scientists have been shouting in vain that if we carry on extracting, drilling, chopping and burning we risk a global ecosystem collapse, and now this view is finally being listened to. Last week we had 195 nations agree in a single legal document that our planet will not support our current way of life and that significant change is necessary.

Oil money still has huge influence, but it’s in decline and the common sense voice of civic society is starting to prevail. Last week the divestment movement reached a committed pledge of $3.4 Trillion dollars from over 500 different organisations out of fossil fuel stocks. The New York attorney general has also recently opened an investigation into whether ExxonMobil misled the public and investors about the dangers and potential business risks of climate change.

On Thursday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was given a 6.2 million strong petition from people around the world calling for a bold progressive agreement to be achieved and on Saturday - that agreement was delivered albeit it's not as progressive as it should have been, but never the less an agreement has been made.

While the agreement itself is important, we also need to recognise that a top-down approach isn’t going to achieve change by itself. It simply sets a direction. The physical change needs to come from all of us, all 7.3 Billion of us.

So think of the agreement as a starting gun, for civil society, organisations and businesses, to take the ‘starting’ pledge that the world’s governments have just agreed and smash them.

I don’t think I’m over-hyping the agreement by saying it’s the very early beginning of a profoundly different world where we will experience a different form of power.

Tom Old - Co-Founder