What's next?

After assisting one of our heifers deliver her first calf, my Dad and I sat under a tree on our farm to discuss climate change. It was the first time he had openly discussed the issue on camera and was a little hesitant as to what Al Gore and the community would think of his gradual change of heart on the issue. But really Dad, like all Australian farmers, had been adapting well to climate change for some time.

We discussed the type of cattle we breed, the new trees that have now been planted to replace the ones ripped out some years before we moved here, the choice to fence off the river from the rest of the farm and the new shelter over the cattle yards. We also reflected on the past, the hard summers made worse by the even drier winters, the constant gamble on the weather and the prayers for a better tomorrow.

Having committed to openly discuss climate change only 12 months ago, I am amazed at the generosity and commitment of people to the cause. I never envisioned myself being included in a cookbook, lobbying the Government in the walls of Parliament House, proposing a successful climate change policy motion that garnered media and interest from around the world or travelling to Paris for COP21. But here I am…

Often referred to by the collective masses as the last chance to save the planet from the impacts of climate change, it is clear that there are 3 distinct groups of people that have attended the conference. Those whose job demands they come for government or business reasons, the social justice activists and protestors who want strong emission’s target outcomes and those who are here to ensure their families and their homeland and their culture can simply survive.

Listening to the speakers and meeting so many diverse people from both the wealthiest and poorest countries the conference has left me horrified, motivated and empowered. Horrified at the climate change driven, devastating events that are happening on a daily basis around the world. Horrified at the risks that we are taking if we don’t act now and motivated and empowered by the mood and desire for positive outcomes

It’s also been a time of great personal reflection as I sit through the conference sessions and watch the intense activity around me, I have found myself constantly asking myself the same question that I have recently been pondering about my own life… What’s next? Even if the result of COP is the best decision possible, how will we implement it? Are we really ready to live the life we are lobbying governments to create?

After gaining a greater appreciation of the circumstances in the world, I tremble at the thought of how much more action is needed and what impact I, as an individual, can have on this. I ponder whether I can create a green lifestyle personally, while helping improve the agricultural systems and livelihoods of farmers and communities around the world.

The COP21 trip has taught me that there are many options out there, whether it’s moving to an ecovillage like Findhorne, incorporating renewables on the farm like in Snowdonia or changing Government policy through people power and lobbying and hoping the government of the day sees the big picture and what is best for us in the long term.

I am still working on my future plans, imagining what I really want in life and how I can continue to play my part. What I do know for certain is that we could create change within the crowded corridors at COP21. I also know we all play an important part in this journey and as individuals we must ensure we also walk the talk when we demand so much from Government. I’m committed to creating change, envisioning a better life and a bright future.

As darkness settles in over Paris, I hope that the enthusiasm and the commitment translates into action on the ground. I hope that we can all do our part on a personal level to help reduce the impacts of climate change. And I dream of a world where maybe one day my descendants can sit under the same tree with their Dad and share their story with the world.