In these blogs, I tend to write about adventure and living an extraordinary life, including personal financial planning. Today, I am going to write about something a bit different, although connected.
The climate crisis has been front and centre of the news for the past couple of weeks as the UK hosted a big climate conference (known as COP26 – the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties) in Glasgow. Lobbying organisations are all shouting about what a failure the conference was, yet politicians seem to be cautiously positive about progress.
Who is right?
On the way into COP21 in 2015 (the conference in Paris that made a historic agreement to limit warming to 2 degrees), the world was heading towards almost 6 degrees of warming. Pledges by the end of that conference would lead to warming of 3.7 degrees. A ratchet process was agreed to increase pledges in 5 years. Delayed by a year, that’s where we are now. COP26 agreed to aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and countries made pledges that would lead to warming of 2.4 degrees. Significant progress has been made.
Next year, countries will return with another round of pledges, with a view to closing the gap down to 1.5 degrees.
If such good progress is being made, why are the lobbying groups still shouting from the rooftops?
For a start, these pledges are not yet enough to avoid death, hardship and homelessness for millions of people. 2.4 degrees of warming would be catastrophic.
And then there’s the issue of pledges not being met. Pledges on their own achieve nothing – it is action that will make a difference. Governments and corporations need to make pledges AND take action to achieve them.
It’s complicated – and I think that both views are valid. We are making progress, but there is still a long way to go – and we are running out of time.
The power of leverage – 3 small actions that can make a big difference
It’s time for us all to step up to the mark and take action on this issue. I’m not going to tell you to turn down your heating or drive your car less, although that will help. But we can have a far greater impact if we apply leverage. Here are my top three small actions you can take that can make a big difference:
1. Switch all your investments to low carbon or fossil fuel-free funds
Many of us are inadvertently supporting the fossil fuel industry with our pension funds, ISAs and other investments. Even many ‘responsible’ funds will still invest in fossil fuels. Check out where your money is invested and switch where you can. If there is no climate-friendly option available for your workplace pension, then lobby your employer to provide better options. This is a great example of leverage – if your employer starts to offer climate-friendly pension options, that could have a much greater impact than just switching your own investments.
2. Encourage your employer to join – and win – the race to zero
If your employer can reach zero carbon ahead of the game, they will have a competitive advantage. Most employers will have a carbon footprint far higher than an individual’s. If you can encourage your employer to do more, the positive effect you have could be much greater than simply reducing your emissions at home.
3. Become an activist – in a way that suits you
Activism does not necessarily mean joining marches or glueing yourself to buildings.
My MP tells me that she rarely receives letters or emails about the climate crisis, which makes it harder for her to focus on the issue. Let your MP know how important this issue is to you. Ask them to encourage the government to be bold with their pledges AND their follow-up action.
Use your skills to influence those in power.
If you are good at public speaking, offer to talk to local groups about the climate crisis, send a video message to your MP or start a vlog.
If you are a writer, you could start a blog, or maybe your local paper would give you a monthly column.
What skills or interests do you have that you could put to good use?
The Power of You
It’s easy to feel powerless against such an enormous and nebulous issue like climate change, but we all have the power to effect change. If you take these three simple actions, you CAN make a difference. Add in a fourth action – of sharing this blog – and you never know how much change might happen.
As well as being an adventurer, writer and speaker, Julia is a Chartered Environmentalist who cares passionately about this beautiful planet we call home.
Please like, share and comment below if you have found this blog interesting. Let me know what action you have taken as a result of reading this blog, and if you want to know more about the climate crisis and what we can do about it. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.