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Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, International
The Women's Earth & Climate Action Network is a solutions-based, multi-faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions. For Our Earth and Future Generations A project of Women's Earth and Climate Caucus and its partner eraGlobal Alliance

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Jo Veltman

City/Country: United Kingdom


Jo Veltman

I'm deeply humbled & feel an immense gratitude to women all over the world acting for Climate Justice. I am from the UK: the nation which started the Industrial Revolution. Back then we didn't know about the global warming effects of greenhouse gases. But we know now & in my own country our carbon footprint per person & our continued dependence on fossil fuels (including future infrastructure planning) are areas I find impossible to align with. I find I cannot sit idly by while nations & peoples who have done little to create the problem are suffering the worst impacts already of climate change. "Climate change is the human rights issue of our time", said the late great Desmond Tutu. I agree with him. The WHO asked doctors to be climate advocates & since then (I am a children's doctor as well as a mother) I have tried to do that. Locally we have set up a community group committed to awareness raising & supporting solutions, including holding public forums, talks with local politicians & education in schools. Sometimes it feels like a drop in the ocean. But I continue to be inspired by the women who keep on despite the most difficult circumstances. I would be humbled & deeply honoured to stand alongside any of them. For our leaders meeting at COP22 I would say: 1. Climate justice needs to be a central part of the decision-making: both for people alive now & for future generations. It is certainly time that the most vulnerable countries were decisively & effectively supported to adapt to a problem that is not of their making. It is heartbreaking to me to see people suffering, losing homes, livelihoods, wellbeing or even their land & lives from the impacts of climate change. And future generations: for my daughter & everyones' children & the generations beyond them: we are responsible for the planetary home we leave behind. 2. I would also say: we the people want real solutions & not false accounting. It is time that aspects of consumption were factored in to countries' commitments & that so called developed countries turned to clean energy as rapidly as possible. We need proper carbon taxation & an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Surely that would release some finance to support clean energy & climate vulnerable countries. 3. Additionally, there are many people who need more climate education. This was something national governments committed to in Rio 1992. I do not believe this commitment has been honoured in my own country at least. "Love & compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." ~HH Dalai Lama. I believe this is true. We are one world. We can no longer behave as though our actions do not affect others. My hope is that the immensely difficult issues facing our planet at the present time will be an opportunity we can take up to make our world a more compassionate place for everyone. It really is up to us.

The more I have learned about climate change, the more I have come to realise it is also a racial issue. Nowhere does this seem more apparent to me than with regards to Indigenous people all over the globe. At only 4% of the global population they protect 80% of the planet's biodiversity: biodiversity humanity depends on for survival. Indigenous people know how to live in harmony with nature. It is my belief that non-indigenous people like myself have much to learn from the First Nations people. Great injustices have been inflicted on indigenous people throughout history & they continue, the world over, to this day. It is all heart break to me & I have immense respect for their courage & resilience in the face of immense challenges. Right now we are witnessing events in North Dakota which demonstrate a terrible & continued breaching of Indigenous rights. The water protectors at Standing Rock deserve to be protected & listened to & their human rights honoured. It is inspiring to see how Indigenous people are coming together at Standing Rock, demonstrating a brotherhood & sisterhood we can all learn from. They tell us the earth is hurting & we have to act transformatively now. Scientists agree. I believe them. Events showing solidarity with Standing Rock have been unfolding around the world. Myself & others have demonstrated our support in London on two occasions this week. (Photo: Saturday 5th November 2016, outside USA Embassy, London.)