COP24 climate talks had a ‘people’s voice’, but did anyone listen?

(The Conversation, 19 Dec 2018) When the broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough launched the latest UN climate talks, COP24, he called for ordinary people to get involved, add their voice, and “take their seat”.

A series of #takeyourseat videos were published, featuring people around the world discussing what climate change meant for them. This was a sign of something new at this COP.

On Friday, its closing day, a Swedish school girl called Greta Thunberg called for a global climate strike and urged policymakers to hear the voice of the youth. Our children will suffer the consequences of the past actions of their elders and their current lack of climate action. So was the “people’s voice” truly included in the climate talks, or was it still business as usual?

One way we can assess this is by looking at some of the pledges to emerge from the conference. In the final days of COP24, for instance, EU members and scores of developing countries pledged to toughen their existing commitments to cut emissions through enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs are simply the post-2020 climate actions that nations intend to implement to meet the long-term goal set by the Paris Agreement.

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The Conversation, 19 Dec 2018: COP24 climate talks had a ‘people’s voice’, but did anyone listen?