What is the Road to Paris? FOCUS talks with Richelle to find out about the “Road to Paris”, the Black Gully Music Festival, how they are linked and what they hope to achieve.
What is the Road To Paris, and what does it represent?
Well, the Road to Paris represents all sorts of initiatives around the world in the lead up to the UN Climate Summit in Paris, December 2015. It’s a grass-roots movement designed to energise global communities to voice their support for serious climate action from our world leaders.
Many people are concerned that the future of the planet is in danger if we don’t stop global warming, and so leading nations, regions, cities, businesses, interest groups and communities are all looking towards the deliberations at the UN Climate Summit.
It will be attended by world leaders from every country, and aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate to keep global warming below two degrees celsius.
How did Armidale’s Road To Paris begin?
At the April monthly forum of Sustainable Living Armidale (SLA), we discussed the UN Climate Summit and the global Road to Paris movement, and decided on a local initiative. It was important to us from the beginning to include the local community in conversations and deliver events that raise awareness and capture the community’s concerns about climate change. We are aware that for many people it is a very difficult issue to confront.
What do you hope to achieve?
We want to help people feel that something can be done, and Australia can play a constructive role. We hope to not only convey the community’s messages to our delegates at the Summit, but also inspire and lead others to be more proactive about emissions reduction, and continue to champion for real climate action. We hope to see more people involved in our various SLA initiatives too, because not only are they generally fun and engaging, they have a practical edge too, helping people adopt a more sustainable, healthier and happier lifestyle.
Tell us about the involvement of school children:
There are many studies endorsed by the UN indicating major changes to the climate by 2050 if current greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory. We’re talking extreme temperatures and weather patterns. In 2050, today’s primary school children will only be in their 40s, many with families and children of their own. We can’t afford the “business as usual” approach.
One of the ways we’re capturing the kids’ and community’s messages is through a visual petition in the form of a fabric road, which has been available at various events. Some schools already have a length of fabric, others are welcome to contact us for some to record their students’ messages to the Summit delegates.
There is also a film project initiated by Armidale Dumaresq Council and supported by Armidale Road to Paris, which is seeking short films from schools exploring climate change, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Young people are our future leaders, which is why we’ve involved them in this important initiative.
How can people get involved?
We already had a great turn-out to the Bob Brown lecture at the Town Hall. We also had a public statement in the media signed and paid for by hundreds of local people, organisations and businesses.
The visual petition with drawings, thoughts, and messages continues to grow and is available for people to add their messages at future Armidale Road to Paris events, including our celebration at the Black Gully Festival. Keep an eye out too for the People’s Climate March at the end of November.
People can also get involved: by signing up to the SLA e-newsletters at SLArmidale.org; joining us for our monthly forums on the first Thursday of each month at Kent House, 7pm; joining one of SLA’s action groups; or having a conversation in the SLA community garden.
How are Armidale Road to Paris and the Black Gully Festival connected?
For several years the Black Gully Music Festival has been held in celebration of community and environment. This year the Festival has embraced Armidale Road to Paris, so we’re working together with Landcare to deliver a festival with an expanded emphasis on climate change and the importance of the Paris Climate Summit. Years ago, Landcare rehabilitated the Black Gully area behind NERAM where the festival takes place, and trees are invaluable carbon banks, so the two go hand in hand. Oh, and this year the Festival will be bigger than ever!
Tell us more about the Black Gully Music Festival:
It will be great fun! It’s all happening on the 25th October, from 11am – 8pm at the Black Gully Creeklands behind NERAM. Local musicians will perform throughout the day. There will be information stalls, workshops, food, tree planting, kids’ activities and very brief talks. The community garden will be open with materials to make new scarecrows.
It will be a day for families to gather to enjoy being part of our community and to support the preservation of our environment and the wellbeing of the world’s children and grandchildren in the years to come. It will also be the last opportunity for people to add their drawings and messages to the Road to Paris visual petition before it is filmed, photographed and forwarded to Australian delegates attending the UN Climate Summit. We’re looking forward to a great day and are preparing for a large turnout this year. We’re really excited.