Naomis Klein at Chicheley Hall in the United Kingdom. Still from "This Changes Everything."

It is easier to adjust human created rules than it is to override the laws of nature. Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein borrowed a set of that piece of Julius Caesar wisdom when developing the Leap Manifesto, which launched last September. Caesar meant it in the context of adding an extra day every four years, keeping our calendars synced with the seasons. Klein uses it in the context of fighting climate change.

Klein, author of This Changes Everything, Avi Lewis, director of the documentary of the same name and their team brought the Leap Manifesto to an audience in Paris in conjunction with the UN climate negotiations (COP21).

“We have political and economic systems that seem wholly incapable of rising to the existential crisis of climate change. Yet rather than change those systems and adapt to that reality so we can safeguard life on earth, we have politicians and corporations who are trying to negotiate with the laws of nature,” Klein said.

Currently, negotiators representing countries from around the world, developing and developed, are attempting to hash out a deal that will prevent the earth from warming more than 2 degrees. That number was decided on at COP15 in Copenhagen, island nations like The Maldives fought for a 1.5 degree limit, which they need to prevent rising sea levels from engulfing their lands.

“It is in fact the politicians and CEOs locked up in Le Bourget, who are in fact living in a dream world,” Klein said. She is fighting for solutions to a multi, overlapping crisis. Rather than pitting environmental issues with the economy and social inequity, Klein says Canada, and the world, needs to create integrated solutions. “Integrated solutions that will radically bring down climate change while simultaneously building more just economies and democracies based on true equality.”

For decades, western society has been told it needs to choose between protecting the environment and the economy, said Klein. That is where the creation of the Leap Manifesto came from, released during the federal election to prompt candidates to take on concrete, science-based climate policies. She describes the manifesto as less than a political party but more than a petition.

Klein and co are proposing to turn February 29, 2016 (a leap day) into a global day for climate justice where communities around the world release their own manifestos tailored to their needs and adhering to the laws of nature.

“I refuse to leave our future in the hands of the world leaders cloistered in Le Bourget,” Klein said. (Le Bourget is the site of COP21). Many NGOs have similar messages, that the Paris summit is not the end-all-be-all of climate change mitigation. There needs to be plans and ambition that goes far beyond Paris.

“We know that at the end of this summit, we are not going to have anything that deserves to be described as success. But we cannot afford to give into despair at the end of this summit. We need a post-Paris plan, a people’s plan,” Klein said. 

Megan is A\J's editorial manager, a lover of journalism, and graduate of the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. 


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