It really is the time to Show the Love

Why did you join the WI? As we approach the renewal of our membership, will you be asking yourself that question? I think that the most popular answer would be to make friends, followed by to learn new skills and to make a difference.

Whatever the reason, to fully benefit from your WI membership we all need to contribute something of ourselves. After all, we ‘reap what we sow’, but how?

Have you voted on the 2021-22 resolutions? There is still time if you have not already done so. Which one caught your eye? It was quite a diverse selection I thought and all pertinent. But which one(s) will be chosen? How will you and your WI engage? Don’t forget to plan your resolution meeting, perhaps invite a local speaker to elaborate on the subject for you. Whichever you choose, make it your resolution to get your WI involved.

One of the most significant events of 2021 was COP26. But what did it achieve, what implications does it have for our everyday lives and what can we do as WI members to make a difference? Four introductory sound bites stood out for me. They highlighted the seriousness of the situation:

* “COP 26 is for future generations, not just for everyone alive today”, HM Queen Elizabeth II;

* “One minute to midnight”, UK PM Boris Johnson;

* “The world is following a path of greed and selfishness that would lead to destruction”, Mia Mottley, Barbados;

* “We are digging our own graves by failing to act on Climate Change”, UN Chief Antonio Guterres.

But what was the outcome of COP26? Fundamentally decisions reached and pledges made ensured that the door was kept open to keep the 1.5°C limit on global temperature increase alive. Based only on vague pledges however, a 1.8°C rise may be more realistic by the end of the century, but only if these pledges are implemented. However, there is a huge gap between ambition and implementation!

Based on current evidence there will be a temperature rise of 1.5°C in around a decade and in excess of 2°C by the end of the century. Even the smallest rise in global temperature is detrimental. On the basis of the current pledges a 2.4°C rise is the most likely outcome. This would have a huge impact.

What is necessary is much greater ambition. Pledges made need to be constantly reviewed, ratchetted up and implemented in each and every country. What is critical is what we do now. It would be good to believe that once climate impact is visible it will be difficult to ignore, but this is a ‘pie in the sky’ idea, an unrealistic expectation, for every continent in the world has, last year alone, experienced extensive weather events. Climate impact is visible now, and yet insufficient responses are being made.

Sir Patrick Valance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, gave this stark warning as COP 26 began: “Climate change is greater and far more dangerous than Covid-19.” He continued by explaining that Covid will be a two-to-four-year problem, whereas climate change will be a 50-to-100-year challenge that could be lost.

Winning the battle with Covid will therefore be due to scientific endeavour and technical know-how, but also to the way people have changed their behaviour and restricted their lives. Climate change will be a much greater challenge to the way we live. Unless the GREEN choice is made much easier, there will be even bigger changes to the way we live, and many lives will be lost. Price, convenience and understanding will be key.

As the conference closed Antonio Guterres, reminded us that 1.5° was not completely out of reach but COP 26 had left the target “on life support”!

So, in this GREEN month of February, the month in which we ‘Show the Love’ for our planet, what can we do as WI members? We need to change our behaviour long term and to inspire and lead similar change in others.

An initial step of eating less meat, and flying and driving less would be a significant first step. A series of small changes from us all could make a real impression, but it has to happen now!

So let us Show the Love this month. Join the climate coalition, become an NFWI Climate Ambassador, raise your voice, email your MP to keep us within 1.5° C of warming, make and wear a green heart, initiate a climate change conversation, raise awareness, make a climate change scarf, write a green heart resolution for yourself and your WI, hold a Show the Love meeting or do a display of hearts in your village.

Finally, be an advocate for the climate in your own community. Let us work together for a cleaner future, anything is possible when we pool our resources and work together. I exhort you to raise your voice alongside mine.*

And remember, in the words of Amanda Gorman, America’s Junior Poet Laureate: “The Time is Now, Now, Now”. — Carol A. Gartrell, Federation Chairman

*If you need ideas to act on turn to Page 18 for Carol’s “28 Ways for 28 Days”. Why not use this month’s cover as an eye catching poster to display on a notice board. 

Carol A. Gartrell
Federation Chairman

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