Just over a week ago, US President – and Orange Mephistopheles - Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Accord, much to the dismay of 99.9 percent of intelligent people out there. Echoes of dismay were heard far and wide, and it seemed like the future of Planet Earth was moving ever closer to disaster.
So what exactly is the Paris Accord, AKA the Paris Climate Agreement? Well the Agreement was struck in 2015 between 195 countries pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the course of the next century. As of May 2017, 147 countries had ratified the agreement. It became official on November 4, 2016. Each nation outlined its own plan to curb climate change. The plans are nonbinding, so countries could continue to make changes to their plans as they see fit. The participating nations are expected to reconvene on a regular basis to discuss progress and encourage each other to curb climate change, ultimately through diplomacy. President Obama did not seek Congressional approval for the agreement; however, he did pledge to cut US emissions by up to 28 per cent by the year 2025. Fast-forward to the Trump presidency and that pledge is as good as out the window, and along with it many individuals’ hope for the future.
Anyone can see that our climate is changing. We see evidence every day in the form of floods, fires and earthquakes, as well as in the changes in season that in our part of the world at least, are increasingly blurred. It is incredibly easy to become despondent, and on social media many people I know really did. But from that a new strength emerged in many I think, to up our own efforts in fighting climate change for the good of all.
Tonight’s movie, TOMORROW is an environmentally themed documentary that takes a positive attitude, and its timing could not have been better. Instead of showing all the worst that can happen in countries all over the world, the documentary instead focuses on people from all walks of life suggesting solutions, and also their actions. Filmmakers Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion travelled worldwide to investigate concrete solutions to environmental and social challenges, and the results are amazingly buoying in tough times.
In late 2015 the documentary opened in France to rave reviews. The global investigation was a surprise hit, racking up more than a million admissions, winning the 2016 César for Best Documentary, and becoming a focal point for a gathering movement of citizens committed to putting its practical solutions into practice. It opened in America just days before France was due to go to the polls, fielding a far-right candidate for president who was among the only world leaders to call and congratulate Trump’s win in the U.S. Thank God for all of us that the inspiring Emmanuel Macron went on to triumph instead, and seems to have taken it upon himself to throw the kind of shade on ol’ Agent Orange that only a politically astute, well-read and quite frankly bloody clever Frenchman can.
But back to the film, which is the perfect watch for anyone feeling the blues in the face of the Mango Mussolini. Variety called it “a sunnier, less snarky version of Michael Moore’s WHERE TO INVADE NEXT”, and it introduces the viewer to amazing sights such as a model public school in Finland; a citywide composting project in San Francisco; a town in England that prints its own money; a village in India in which local democratic process has led to solidarity against the caste system; an envelope factory in Lille which reinvests its profits rather than paying shareholders; and so on. It focuses on the general can-do attitude so common to each of the scenarios, and the ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It also never shies away from the fact that yes, the world is fast turning to crap, but that there are people who are fighting in small ways to stop that from happening.
These ordinary people make the future seem not quite so bleak, and encourage us all to look at changes we can make, however small. It can be as little as addressing our own approach to single-use plastic – something I have adopted with some fervour. It’s easy when I live within walking distance of GoodFor, a ‘wholefoods refillery’ where bulk goods flow free and plastic packaging is nowhere in sight. A wide variety of dry goods are presented loose in bulk bins, and liquids such as maple syrup and olive oil are dispensed from tanks on a shelf. Paper bags and glass jars are available for purchase, or customers can bring their own. It all seems too easy but it can help make a difference, and if all of us give it a nudge… well, maybe we really can make the world a better place.
TOMORROW premieres Thursday 8 June at 8.30pm on Rialto Channel
Click here to remote record