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Calling for climate justice in Paris

17 December 2015

At the start of December, the United Nations climate talks began in Paris. Representatives of governments from all over the world gathered to negotiate with the intention of deciding upon a new international climate agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees.

Michael Briggs describes why campaigning on climate change is important to him, and reflects on the impact that our voices can have on people who are suffering its effects across the world.

Tax of Life Report In my opinion, it is vital that the serious action is taken on global warming and climate change.

I’m passionate about this because for me it’s all about people. People like me and you. And more than that, people who are living in poverty. It’s the poorest and most vulnerable nations in the world who are at the most risk.




Climate change brings with it failed crops, droughts, intense storms, floods. It also brings more poverty and more death.

For me living in Ireland climate change can become some distant theory about what might happen in a few decades. But for people living in the poorest countries across the world it is no vague threat in the distant future. The changing climate and a warming world is very much a present day reality.

We may not believe it yet because we have everything we need. There has not been a day in life when I was worried that I may not have enough food to survive and not a day in my life where I have not had access to clean drinking water.

But for the poor living in developing countries they see it happening. They experience it. They see their crops fail. They experience the floods. This is reality.

I know this because I have had the opportunity to meet some of them, to talk to them, to hear their voices and to look into their eyes when they say ‘the rain has not come’, ‘my crops will fail’ or ‘I have no food for my family’.

Climate change in El Salvador

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Adan Morales Saracay (59) is a fisherman who lives in El Salvador. Following wave-surges his home was buried under layers of sand and sediment. He needs to provide for his family of 4 sons and 8 grandchildren but the wave-surges have also affected his fishing business. He said:

‘In the last ten years the weather has been less predictable. We don’t know how the rainy season is going to carry out.

‘After what happened with the big waves, people have gone out fishing and they haven’t been able to catch any big fish. The fish have gone deeper or they have gone further out. There hasn’t been any fish since the big waves – over a month now.’

Adan’s reality may not be our reality yet. But if we continue to burn fossil fuels and continue to ignore the warning signs then it’s only a matter of time for that reality to hit us. In the meantime we ignore the plight of millions of people who are suffering because of the pollution we send into the atmosphere.

This is the reason why I went to Paris.

I felt it was essential for me to add my voice to the millions of voices around the world who are saying ‘enough’. To add my voice to the millions of voices around the world urging their governments to confront and take serious action on climate change.

The Irish and UK governments have been taking baby steps towards acting on climate change for the past few years but the time for baby steps is over. It’s time to walk - better yet, it’s time to run. We need our governments to lead.

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At the beginning of December, we had thousands of people across our country marching for climate justice in Cork, Galway, Dublin, Belfast and many places in between. All across Ireland people have been signing petitions and lobbying local TDs and MPs.

In Paris, that collective call started to be heard and acted upon.

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's Senior Climate Advisor commented:

  • For the first time in history the whole world has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change. Although different countries will move at different speeds, the transition to a low carbon world is now inevitable. Governments, investors and businesses must ride this wave or be swept away by it.’

But this is only the start. Winning the fight against climate change will require more than the agreement made in Paris, which will not, in itself, deliver a safe world under two degrees.

While the tide has begun to change we must continue to raise our voice. We must continue to question our politicians and let them know that we want serious, fair and just action on climate change. 

We must speak up with the poorest in the world so that real life saving and world changing action will be taken. 

It is in the real world in the months and years to come that the strength of the Paris Agreement will be determined.

Read the official press release issued by Christian Aid at the conclusion of the Paris talks.

 About the author

Sorley McCaughey

Michael Briggs is our Education and Campaigns Officer in Ireland

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