A Change of Course: When Will We Realise We Are All In The Same Boat
Part Three: A Change of Course
Thirty-six people from across Europe representing over twelve countries will set sail towards what can only be described as an adventure of a lifetime, and a call to action for a sustainable future. As participants of ‘Sail to the COP’ they will spend seven weeks sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, before reaching Chile to attend The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2019. Among the participants on board are three alumni of Leiden University College The Hague.
Chile Pulls Out of Hosting the COP
President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera released a statement on Wednesday October 30th announcing the cancelation of the UN Climate Change Convention 2019 amid social and political unrest in Chile.
For the thirty six climate activists part of ‘Sail to the COP’ the announcement came as a devastating blow. The news broke aboard the Regina Maris as the group cast off from their final stop Cabo Verde before making the Atlantic crossing. After weeks of storms, trials and tribulations the cheeks of notable figures on board including Adélaïde Charlier were crested with salty tears.
The sentiments aboard the Regina Maris quickly changed from shocked to uncertain, as activists began a frantic search desperately seeking new ways to get to Madrid. Their three mast sail boat won’t make the journey on time, so the team has put out a call for help to the public.
In Chile, the student led protests began when the government increased the price of the metro fares by 3.7%. The initial outbreak of protests was followed swiftly in natural order by increased police brutality. Over 3535 people have been detained so far according to the INDH Chile. With stability far from sight, President Sebastian Piñera said that “the decision was very difficult and has caused the Chilean Government much pain” to cancel both the Climate Change Convention and the APEC Summit.
Are We Still All In the Same Boat?
The response to social inequality in Chile is being felt across the world. Sail to the Cop released a statement via twitter highlighting that the developments in Chile are not civil unrest but a symbol of “deep social inequality”. Inspite of such tribulations the activists continue moving across uncharted waters, and a European country has stepped in, proving that despite all of the challenges the show must go on.
Speculation has arisen however over the role of Pedro Sánchez, President of Spain, in accepting the responsibility of hosting the upcoming COP. Although Sánchez notably came to power while supporting action against climate change and a New Green Deal for Spain, his commitment has slipped its salient mooring. Since coming to power he has rejected a counter proposal to make Spain a country 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2040.
His offer to host the COP has been read by policy coordinator at the think tank Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 as “partisanship and pretty narrow-minded politics ahead of principle and the plight of future generations”. Let us not forget that Spain too has known civil unrest in recent years, and the weight it bears on the Political resilience of a Nation.
Political Solidarity and Social Justice
The COP this year falls 12 months before the commitment made by countries who have ratified the Paris Agreement to lower emissions drastically. The conference is the last step before tangible action has been said it would be taken. With this in mind, NGOs, stakeholders, and climate activists are all eager to be present in order to have a stake in the future. The wind may be against them, but their resilience in the face of adversity is what is continuing to push them forward.
Sail to the COP has made a public cry for help. “Help us get to the COP! From Belém, Brazil our tall ship wouldn’t make it in time but a racing yacht might.” Having their think tank represented at the convention is proving crucial to them. No option or alternative to getting there has been dismissed so far, and the group are keeping a critical mind and open heart as their desperate cries hit the shore.
Article written by Jayne Fitzgerald.