Waking up on the International Space Station gives you a different view of the world – in more ways than one. With that blue oasis of life glowing 250 miles below you, it makes you appreciate not only how special our planet is, but how fragile it is too. Apart from those of us lucky enough to visit the ISS, Earth is the only home we have.
That’s why I’m joining 57 million Scouts across the world to make a #PromiseToThePlanet. Each Scout is making their commitment to take positive action – however small – to create a better future for us all. But we need our leaders to make their promise too, on a national and international scale. That’s why Cop26 is a make-or-break moment for our world. Unless we collectively make the right decisions, then our very future is at stake.
I’ve seen international cooperation in action. Aboard the International Space Station, you can rub shoulders with Russians, Europeans, Japanese, Canadians, Americans and many more nationalities besides. We overcome language barriers, working side by side to solve problems and share what we learn. Replicate that kind of cooperation on a worldwide scale at Cop26, and we’ll see a great result. Only this time, the participants won’t be weightless. On the contrary – they’ll need to have their feet squarely on the ground.
We are calling on our world leaders to urgently reduce greenhouse gases. To avoid slipping out of control, we need to stop warming from increasing beyond the 1.5 degree threshold. We also need our governments to support other nations to manage the impact of the climate crisis and make the changes so urgently needed. As the hosts of Cop26, the UK needs to lead by example and courageously tackle what is surely the biggest challenge facing our generation.
Campaigning to stop climate change isn’t a hobby or lifestyle choice. It is a necessity. It’s about protecting the future generations, and one thing’s incredibly clear to me: young people are on the front line of the climate crisis. The future belongs to them and we must do everything in our power to give them the legacy they deserve.
You don’t need to go into space to see how the world is changing. You only need to look out of the window to see extreme weather events happening right on our doorsteps. Our climate is becoming ever more unpredictable, with droughts and flooding becoming commonplace, even in temperate places such as the UK.
Across the world, this is having a devastating impact; and it’s getting worse not better. As things stand, a child born in 2020, compared with someone born in 1960, will experience, on average in their lifetime, twice as many wildfires, 2.8 times more floods, and 6.8 times more heatwaves. That’s impossible to ignore. We’re seeing livelihoods being destroyed, and the very real casualties are the children missing out on the basics they need for health and education.
I’ve seen how much this work matters to my own children, and the steps they take to do the right thing – thinking carefully about what they eat, how they use energy and live their lives. If our young people can do the right thing, then surely so can we as adults and influencers.
So let’s commit to change, both large and small. In our everyday lives, that could be as simple as eating planet friendly food (that hasn’t crossed the globe to land on our plate), planting a tree and being more energy-efficient. If each of us does something, then together we can make a mighty difference.
Let’s continue to lobby our leaders too, particularly as they meet this week. We need them to appreciate that positive change is something we all want to see, even if we need to make difficult choices. Perhaps above all, let’s make sure our children’s voices are heard. It’s time we saw the climate crisis through their eyes.
Tim Peake is a Scout ambassador and was the first British ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station
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