13th February 2020 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
What will you do?
In November this year, the UK and Italy will together host the UN Climate Change Conference, popularly called COP 26, in Glasgow. It is a great responsibility, but one which both of our governments are enthusiastic and determined to deliver on.
The situation facing all of us today is critical. The science is clear – climate change is real and it is threatening our future. Current actions fall far short of what is needed to limit the catastrophic damage to our lives, and those of our children. It is already evident in the extreme weather we see more of – droughts, flooding, storms, and melting ice caps – and we can expect more ahead of us. It will massively impact on our food production, our health, and our very lives. Our oceans are increasingly full of plastic, our biodiversity shrinking, and species dying out.
At the Paris COP of 2015, the world agreed to limit warming to 1.5°C, but this too requires ever greater effort and collaboration from all of us. The themes of this COP will be clean growth, finance, nature-based solutions and adaptation and resilience. You can read more about them at www.UKCOP26.org. But more than anything, we want this year to be defined by ambition and action. What will this Year of Climate Action look like? And what can each of us do to contribute to it?
We do not believe that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina need to be told that failing to take care of the environment around us is damaging. It is clear in the choking air pollution that affects Sarajevo, Tuzla and other cities across the country. It is clear in the plastic bags and other rubbish that scars the beautiful rivers and valleys. It is clear in the terrible impact of floods, uncontrolled construction, and deforestation, which leads to natural disasters like the landslides seen in BiH in 2014.
We want to see every country raise its own ambition, and pledge to do more through its Nationally Defined Contribution, finalising of its Fourth National Greenhouse Gas Emission Report, National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change and the shift to greener energy and reducing emissions. If you want BiH and other countries in this region to do more to lead the way, then you can raise your voice and encourage your representatives to do so. It is not too late to take meaningful action. But every year that we collectively fail to do so means a greater likelihood of disaster in the future. BiH can play its part.
But this is also about making a difference closer to home. Individual action can sometimes seem futile in the face of such great challenges. A drop in the ocean. But what is the ocean made of if not many individual drops? And what is our world if not the sum of our individual actions?
There is a great deal each of us can do to make a difference, and contribute to this Year of Climate Action. You could stop accepting plastic bags with your shopping, and take reusable bags with you. You could improve the insulation in your home, to reduce your emissions and your heating costs. You could more often take public transport, cycle or walk. You could stop buying water in disposable bottles in favour of one you carry with you. You could encourage your workplace to reduce its waste, to take part in a countryside clean up, or use cleaner heating sources.
Both of us have made Year of Climate Action commitments, #YOCA2020.
- The Italian Embassy will promote cleaning actions for Via Dinarica, a project for promoting tourism along trekking routes in BiH
- The UK Embassy will stop all single use plastics, and make this the first Queen’s Birthday Party (our national celebration) to be completely plastic free.
We know there is more we can do, and we will try to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
We also know that there are many people across BiH who care just as passionately about protecting the world around us, and we would love to hear more about what we can all do about it. Get in touch. There is no Planet B. So we had better work together to protect this one. What will you do?
Blog by Ambassador of Italy Nicola Minasi and UK Ambassador Matt Field