On September 8, we joined hundreds of thousands of people all over the world for Rise for Climate, a global day of action to demand that politicians and policymakers take steps right now to transition to 100% renewable energy, end funding for fossil-fuel projects and infrastructure, and protect us from the devastating effects of climate change.
People gathered in cities and towns throughout Europe. They delivered personalized pleas to politicians in Australia. They participated in events and rallies from coast to coast in the US. In all, there were 900+ actions in 95 countries across all seven continents.
The passion for a renewable-energy future is unmistakable—and growing. As is the urgency. Simply put, there’s no time to lose. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest special report on the world’s efforts to keep global warming below 1.5˚C and... [SPOILER ALERT] the news isn’t good.
The Difference Half a Degree Makes
This IPCC report is the most important scientific assessment on climate change and will guide climate policymaking for years to come. It arrives at a critical moment. Three years ago in Paris, the nations of the world pledged to keep the global increase in temperature below 2˚C, and it was hailed as a victory. But this sobering report makes one thing painfully clear: we need to limit that rise to 1.5˚C or the earth will become all but inhabitable to many many millions of us. Turns out that half a degree can make a huge difference.
Of course, we’re already seeing awful effects from climate change. Wildfires have raged across the US, Australia, and even the Arctic. Massive typhoons and hurricanes are battering coastal regions. It snowed in the Sahara! Supercharged storms have dumped record rainfall all over the world. And while the richer nations and those nations’ richer citizens may be able to weather the (increasingly powerful) storms for a while, many people living in low-income communities are already suffering.
Here’s the deal: The world is on track to blow past Paris’ 2˚C goal. A rise of 3˚C (which would be disastrous, by the way) is likely, even probable. Why? For the same reason, so many are suggesting that we can’t possibly keep the global temperature increase below 1.5˚C: POLITICS. The economy is already shifting from dirty fuels to renewables. Cities are already going carbon-free. Businesses large and small are instituting sustainable practices. People want this. The economy is responding. It’s our so-called leaders who are dragging their feet.
It’s Up to Us
So, in the absence of political leadership, what can we do? Well, we need to become leaders, every one of us. We know that have to reduce carbon emissions immediately. As in, NOW. We know we need a fast, fair, and just transition to 100% renewable energy and an immediate end to all fossil-fuel projects.
Will that be difficult to achieve? Yes. Is it impossible? Hell, no! We’ve all seen how quickly change can come when the people rise up and demand it.
If you want to add your voice to the millions around the world demanding change, start right where you live.