Below 2 Degrees: A Well-Responded Call For Action
By Gabriel Charlotte Wajong
It saddened me to see that in the following years after the first conference on climate change, namely IPCC in 1988, many countries were still reluctant in committing to the efforts to preventing or, in the era of 2000, reducing the effects of climate change. This is due to the fact that the damages are real; nearly every year we hear news regarding the alarming number of deforestation in countries which are considered as lungs of the world, such as Indonesia and Brazil, as well as the constant increase of pollution rates in many parts of the world. Therefore, I was quite delighted to hear what COP21 in Paris last year has brought about in the fight against climate change. Countries submitting their INDCs and the added name-and-shame mechanism, in my opinion, reflects a bolder stance that the international community is taking in order to save earth from demise. Specifically in Indonesia, I am grateful that our INDC is followed through by President Jokowi’s government by immediately initiating “Diet Kantong Plastik” as well as hosting “Festival Iklim” as means to educate society and make the efforts to fight climate change more inclusive. I am also excited to see that the awareness towards environmental protection are now, not only engineered by government, also met by grassroot society’s positive response, such as Indians who supported their government’s odd-even driving plan and Indonesians’ outrage at companies who wreaked havoc in Sumatra. So for me, Below 2 Degrees have so far served as an effective wake-up call to the long dormant structural and collective efforts of environmental protection. It has become the perfect momentum where both government and society are now acknowledging that their habits need to change and are showing concrete efforts to do so. In addition to that, seeing that the efforts are enforced even more collectively has enhanced my optimism towards this call for action.
On a more personal level, this call demands for an even more rigorous and active effort from me for the sake of environmental protection. I believe it is no longer sufficient for me to simply conduct a green lifestyle of my own, but to make sure others adopt it as well. Therefore as a layperson, I believe that at the very least what we should and can do is follow and support the current governmental regulations regarding the environment, ranging from “Diet Kantong Plastik”, not littering, to participating in Car Free Days. Not just that though, my field of study has enlightened me with the knowledge that in order for an attitude to change, in this case to form a positive value/appreciation towards the environment, one must have the relevant knowledge regarding it first. As what my ongoing research has indicated, oftentimes people are not engaged in green activities because they have yet to know of such thing or the devastating damage that our environment is undergoing. It is also, and even more important, to make sure that other people are aware of the importance of becoming more friendly to the environment especially when we ourselves are already going green. That is why it is imperative for us to inform other people regarding the cause because I believe that the efforts to protect that environment cannot be done just by one individual; everyone must participate, or else, our own effort would become futile. As simple as putting the topic into conversation when we are with our peers, online or offline, or to share the relevant articles in our social media accounts would do. On a larger scale, one could contribute in organized grassroot movements which aim to increase awareness regarding environmental protection. Lastly, we should also supervise our own governments in their efforts to tackle problems of environment so that they will not go astray. Not just knowing, we should also initiate pressure when the government go astray, or even slightly hints on doing so in order to prevent, for example, the existence of harmful companies mongering in our country. That is why I believe Below 2 Degrees has served as a well-responded call so far, yet I believe there are plausible ways for us to extend those responses and make sure they last.