Sunday morning, to the casual observer, looked like a normal weekend at our place. I walked outside, picked up the paper from our front yard and watered the hedge before the Canberra sun got too hot. My husband held our ten-week old son in the shade of the front porch.
But there was a spring in my step and a grin on my face that wasn’t there the day before. Because on Sunday, we woke up to a different world – one that I, and tens of thousands of environmentalists, had been working towards for over a decade.
In 2005, I was a delegate at the UN climate change talks in Montreal. Ten years later, the world finally has a legally binding agreement aiming to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius by the end of the century (quick recap: burning fossil fuels has already warmed the world an average of 1 degree celsius over what temperatures were before the Industrial Revolution, causing those once-in-a-hundred year type extreme weather events to become the new normal).
This agreement is a big deal.
— COP21en (@COP21en) December 12, 2015
Even before the commentary from news organisations, I could tell from my Facebook feed how significant it was. Post after post from climate campaigner friends (not generally known for false cheer) was full of joy, hope and celebration.
One reported from the plenary hall just before the text was released: “People are happy. That must mean something.”
“I’m literally crying,” said another. “So much hope that my children’s planet will be healing rather than burning.”
“Go humans”. “This is a historic moment.” “End of the fossil fuel era”.