So what can we really do about climate change?

We need to recognise our shared responsibility, says Ángel Maria Ibarra Turcios, director of an environmental organisation in El Salvador (Progressio partner organisation UNES), and change the way we think about life.

Campaigns – like Progressio’s Just Add Water campaign – are important “because we are all jointly responsible for the fate of the planet,” says Angel:

“The solution to the impacts of climate change, but also the problems that climate change generates for people, are mediated by water. So we can’t talk in the text of the negotiations [in Copenhagen], nor in climate change awareness-raising campaigns, without mentioning water. Water is vital. And water has a lot to do with the climate in general. I think that the climate could be managed in a sustainable way if we were to learn to manage water in a sustainable way.”

But people in poor countries are not well represented, and do not have their voices heard, at negotiations like Copenhagen, says Angel:

“Unfortunately this model and this system of western life has excluded large sectors of the population, mainly women, indigenous people. And they don’t take into account the opinions of children. They have concentrated on placing as subjects only people who can produce and consume, who are the minority of the world population. So these negotiations, the bulk of the negotiations have turned their back on people. And the ordinary people of the world do not know that in these negotiations the future of their lives is at risk.

“The problem is that the countries – or rather the people – that have not contaminated the atmosphere, are those that hold the solution. It’s the farmers, it’s the ordinary people, it’s the poor people of the world, those who do not emit much CO2, those who do not contaminate the atmosphere, who can teach us how to sustain life on the planet.

“So it is important for us not to look towards the global North, but to look towards the South and mainly at the farming communities and small-scale farmers.

“We say that for us, the model of development of the global North is not our paradigm. We must learn instead to live, because the more developed we become, the more separated we are from nature. We choose a paradigm in which we need to find nature again, learn from it how to live and how to put an end to the centuries of materialism in life.”

Watch a video showing the impact of climate change in El Salvador:

Angel Ibarra was talking to Brie O’Keefe, Progressio’s Campaigns Officer, at the pre-Copenhagen climate negotiations in Barcelona

Ángel is Director of Unidad Ecològica Salvadoreña/UNES, Salvadoran Ecological Unity, an environmental organisation in El Salvador and Progressio partner.