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The rise of Green parties has moved global warming up the list of the world’s priorities

Climate activists have always had a presence at the global climate conference, dating back to the first one in 1995.

Green Party activists. Source - Jerryhattric, CC SA 2.0.
Green Party activists. Source - Jerryhattric, CC SA 2.0.

As the COP26 conference began in Glasgow, Scotland on Sunday,  great strides against global warming may have seemed unlikely, given the vague promises made the day before at Rome’s G20 summit. But climate activists have always had a presence at the global climate conference, dating back to the first one in 1995.

In 1995, unmet goals and broken pledges were the norms at that Berlin conference. Now, however, activists and scientists take comfort in the changed political climate – one that has shifted considerably since that time.

Now, “no one is questioning that the crisis is happening,” said Annika Hedberg of the European Policy Center. “The debate is around what can be done and at what speed. This is a positive thing.”

G20 agrees on 1.5 degree target ahead of UN climate talks
G20 leaders gather amid intense negotiations to seal an agreement on fighting climate change – Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

It was not easy being Green

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, has been to every one of the climate conferences, and she says that at the first one, the world didn’t pay a lot of attention. The attendees were mostly climate scientists and environmental groups, based in Europe and North America, who set up meetings by passing paper notes around, the Washington Post reports.

In the 25 years since that first climate conference, the public’s perception of our climate has changed, and it has been due to environmental activism. A recent poll found that 59 percent of Americans say the planet’s warming is very or extremely important to them as an issue, up 10 points from 2018, per the Associated Press.

Members of both parties say climate change is real—89 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans. A Pew poll earlier this year found concern rapidly growing in several major economies, per NBC

A movement began internationally in the mid-1980s that became the Green Party. While it started out as a platform to change social injustices, it has turned into a platform that supports environmental issues, and in particular the need to do away with fossil fuels and mitigate climate change.

It has not been easy being a Green. The shift to acceptance of Green Party values has been slow because it has taken time to get the public to understand what is happening to the environment. And with the extreme and disastrous climate events that have hit the world in the past few years – people are now listening to the warnings.

World leaders urged to 'save humanity' at climate summit
US President Joe Biden says the climate fight also offers economic opportunity – Copyright AFP Brendan Smialowski

The changing political landscape

In last month’s federal election, Germany’s environmentalist Green Party had its best results yet, winning nearly 15 percent of the vote, and trailing just behind the two largest parties. Unlike in the United States where the issue is still subject to debate, global warming is a key concern in Germany that voters increasingly expect politicians to address. 

Canada’s Green Party is doing an admirable job of linking climate to other areas of Green policy, according to CBC Canada News. Unlike Canada’s other parties, the Greens take the climate crisis very seriously.

The party proposes aggressive emissions reductions: 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and achieving net-zero “as quickly as possible,” with a carbon budget and targets to support both. 

However, the Green plan is for 100 percent renewable electricity, not 100 percent non-emitting electricity. This means there is no option for fossil-fuel electricity generation combined with carbon capture and storage.

The biggest takeaway may be the difference in the urgency to fight climate change felt by the North American and German electorates, and this comes as a result of decades of environmental messaging in Europe, according to Andreas Goldthau, a research leader at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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