Georgia Potton is a Campaigns Coordinator at Restless Development, leading our new climate change campaign. In this post she celebrates World Earth Day, the signing of the Paris Agreement and showcases the youth activists taking local action across the UK.

Today is World Earth Day. It’s also the day global leaders are promising to protect it. The Paris Agreement, formed at COP21 last year, was the result of decades of relentless hard work for a powerful, unified response to the greatest threat facing our planet: climate change. Today at a big fancy ceremony at the UN, big fancy people are officially signing it. And this is why it matters.

It’s the first time we’ve ever had an international legally binding commitment to tackle climate change: including explicit targets to keep global temperatures “ well below 2C”, aiming for 1.5C. Today could be the largest number of countries signing an international agreement on a single day in UN history: demonstrating the urgency of the task ahead. And, most critically, this is our last chance. Scientists are warning that failure to act now will cause “dramatic and irreversible” environmental changes. Ones we can’t come back from.

This is huge step towards climate justice: one we should all be proud of and hold our own governments accountable to deliver. But if we’re going to meet the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, it won’t just be world leaders that need to act. We all do.

Young people are key drivers in making these promises on paper a reality, even Ban Ki Moon thinks so, and with half the world currently under 30, we’ll be the ones most affected if it fails. So ahead of this global moment I asked the 30 youth activists leading our brand new Climate Change campaign, why this movement, this issue and this day is so important? Their responses reminded me how much power lies in our generation.  

Kristian: Failure to act upon our planet is a failure to act upon justice. By fighting for its protection we fight for women empowerment, we fight to lift people out of poverty, we fight for the rights of future generations, we fight for our food, we fight for our water, we fight for the hundreds of thousands of species that call it home. But we can’t fight alone. We must fight together.”

Ingrid Leduc: “Climate change is the biggest environmental threat to all of us. The faster we act, the more people will have a better life- from farmers in El Salvador to those hit by flooding in Cumbria”

Jessica Lear: “We only have one Earth. And we only have one life. We must strive to protect our beautiful planet and everything that thrives within it. I’m fighting for everyone, and everything, on this little wonderful planet of ours. And so should you.”

These aren’t just empty words. Our climate change campaigners are mobilising across the country in their local communities – from Northern Ireland to Newquay – taking action to protect our planet and pressuring decision makers to do the same. 

Let’s hope today’s UN ceremony means the same for the Paris Agreement. We don’t need more promises on pieces of paper sitting on the desks of politicians, we need action: on a local, nation and global scale. We’re doing our bit, it’s time for our leaders to do theirs, as after all, isn’t every day World Earth Day?

If you want to get involved with Restless Development’s Climate Change campaign, or hear more about what we’re up to, please contact Georgia on georgia@restlessdevelopment.org 

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