Action in the Face of Climate Catastrophe
Amongst all the scary news that CO2 levels have surpassed 415 ppm, a million species are facing extinction and oceans are being choked by plastic and toxic pollution, there are rays of hope. Individuals, governments and corporations are stepping up to take bolder action.
Change Catalyzed by the Investment Industry:
On the corporate front, companies including Facebook, HP and VMware have adopted Science Based Targets to reduce their GHG emissions and to achieve 100% GHG-free energy. One of the drivers of this action is the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Twenty institutional investors from eleven countries, convened by UNEP FI and supported by Carbon Delta, have worked throughout 2018–2019 to analyze, evaluate, and test, state-of-the-art methodologies to enable 1.5°C, 2°C, and 3°C scenario-based analysis of their portfolios in line with the recommendations of the Financial Sustainability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The outputs and conclusions of this Pilot are captured in the linked report and aim to enhance the understanding and ease adoption of the TCFD recommendations by the wider investment industry.
Change Catalyzed by Direct Citizen Organizing and Action
Globally, Greta Thunberg founded School Strike for the Climate and has inspired young people and adults around the world to declare a climate crisis and take significant action to address it. This includes movements to stop flying, such as the social media campaign of Maja Rosen and her neighbor Lotta Hammar, called Flygfritt 2019 (No-Fly 2019). We Stay On the Ground is the English site.
In Britain, Extinction Rebellion https://rebellion.earth/ has mobilized protests. The purpose of this organization is to catalyze direct action to demand that government declare a climate and ecological emergency; act to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
From their website:
“We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.
We are unprepared for the danger our future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.
Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.
Historical evidence shows that we need the involvement of 3.5% of the population to succeed – in the UK that’s about 2 million people. In the US that is about 11.5 million people.
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice. Citizens’ assemblies are often used to address issues that are deemed too controversial and difficult for politicians to deal with successfully.”
Example: Direct action to spur King’s College London to divest endowment of fossil fuels investments. Acquitted based on Necessity Defense.
In the United States, the Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement and the Climate Mobilization are leading the way to urgently needed transformational change. https://www.sunrisemovement.org/gnd
The Sierra Club describes the Green New Deal as “a big, bold transformation of the economy to tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change. It would mobilize vast public resources to help us transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.”
Sunrise Movement is organizing young people to stop climate change and to create millions of good jobs in the process.
The Climate Mobilization has been getting candidates for office and elected officials to pledge to take action on behalf of the climate. They have been advocating for us to declare a climate emergency to mobilize a response at the scale of society. The Green New Deal is a manifestation of their call to action.
Photographer Joel Sartore is taking portraits of animals facing extinction. His breathtaking images are collected in books and on line.