The Road to Paris COP21

December 1st, 2015 Posted by Blogs, COP No Comment yet

Elizabeth Dirth shares her story about her “Road to Paris.”

Chris McGinnis and Elizabeth Dirth cycling to Paris

Chris McGinnis and Elizabeth Dirth cycling to Paris

In some ways, my road to Paris started when I was 15.  When I decided that the only possible career option for me was working on the challenges and threats to the world and all the people on it.

I didn’t know then that this challenge would be climate change, but as anyone who has worked on this issue will know, once you lift up the rock and see what’s underneath, you can’t really go back.  You can’t move on to anything else.  It’s like falling down and getting stuck in the rabbit hole in Alice In Wonderland, and I’m way way down the rabbit hole.

But I won’t start there.  More specifically, my road to Paris started in June 2014 when I joined the 2050 Climate Group.

Before I joined the group, I was working in sustainability and I knew about the UN’s work.  I knew about the failure of the negotiations in Copenhagen.  I understood the urgency.  But I didn’t really know why the UN agreement mattered, what it actually meant, what it had the potential to mean, how it worked, and why it was so damn difficult to make one.

Before the 2050 group, I had worked on community-scale climate change work.  I think its safe to say that the decision to join the group will forever be one of the most defining moments of my professional life.

Most recently, my road to Paris involved a marathon of work:  running Scotland’s first public consultation on climate change that gathered the views of people on the negotiations and climate change issues; publishing and presenting this work to the Scottish Government and the general public; playing a role in organising Scotland’s Climate March, travelling by train from the climate march to France to join Iberdrola in their #just2challenge campaign to raise awareness about the COP; cycling 123kilometres with this team on their final leg towards Paris; and then arriving in Paris tomorrow.  My road to Paris involved cycling, marching, train rides, public consultation, engaging with new audiences, campaigning, and a whole lot of teamwork and collaboration.

Rewinding a bit more than that, my road to Paris was paved by the pace of growing momentum for the 2050 Climate Group has been immense. From Scotland’s First Youth Climate Summit, to the launch of our Young Leaders Development Programme; from speaking at conferences and events around the country, to building relationships with funders, partners, government, and now the international community, our movement is growing.

For me, everything we do is about the mission, the end goal.  And so, the most important part of our movement growing momentum is the way that it contributes to the global momentum around climate action right now.


Today, Monday the 30th of November, climate change is a headline issue, and I’m very proud of the role that the 2050 Climate Group has played in this, even if on a global scale it is small.  I can’t speak for tomorrow, or for the results of the COP, or after the COP, but I do believe on some level the whole world is looking under that same rock that I did ten years ago right now, and things will never be the same.



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