In solidarity with the school strikes
Today, children and teenagers in 2052 places and 123 countries (and counting) are striking to call for greater action on climate change. In Australia, more than 100,000 students have already been on strike today. Could this be the biggest protest moment in history? I'm filled with hope by what they are doing, but still struck by what one young person said a few weeks ago:
"I'm striking because by the time I can vote, it'll be too late. We have to do something now."
The young people striking today are right, climate change is already here. We have a small window of huge opportunity, and we need to grasp it with both hands to avert this climate crisis. All the solutions we need already exist, but we need them rolled out at huge speed and scale, while making sure no one gets left behind.
People in the poorest parts of the world are already well aware of the impacts of climate change. In Somaliland they've had three rainy seasons without rain. In India, thousands of farmers have committed suicide because changing seasons and extreme weather have wrecked their income, pushed them into debt and left them feeling like there was no alternative.
But it's not just in poorer communities that the impacts are already clear. In the UK we've had record temperatures year on year, extreme weather at random times, and floods are becoming more common. In the USA, huge wildfires and megastorms wreak havoc and are only set to get worse.
The children are right, this is a scary point in history. But it doesn't have to be this way. We can be the generation who averted the climate crisis.
What happens next is up to all of us.
Let's speak up in support of the student marches:
Write to our MPs for bolder action and to prioritise it. You can send them WWF's plan for how we could realistically achieve a zero carbon country by 2045. Climate Coalition also have some fab advice for writing to your MP about this!
Find a few like-minded people and get your council to declare a Climate Emergency - to say this is urgent and bold actions are required. Cities and counties up and down the country have already done this and it's upping the ante for action around the nation: in businesses, government, and in the councils who declare them.
Let's ask our employers, churches, community groups, mosques, schools and universities to take action - to switch their energy provider, to speak publicly about this, to support the wider climate movement. Why not ask your employer to join 1% for the Planet (which means they'd commit to supporting the most effective environmental nonprofits with the equivalent of 1% of sales through a combination of monetary, in-kind, and approved advertising contributions.)
Or do something bold and join a nearby Extinction Rebellion event. It might not be for everyone, but their conviction is inspiring - and is contributing to the increased urgency with which we talk about climate change.
Let's start living radically differently,
embodying the future we hope for:
Move your savings away from banks that invest in fossil fuels (all your high street ones) and instead put your savings into things you believe in: Charity Bank, Triodos, or Co-Operative are all good options.
Ask your employer to divest your pension from fossil fuels - I don't want my future comfort built on the suffering of others, which is the reality if our pensions grow by being invested into climate-causing fuels.
Switch your energy provider at home to a 100% renewable one. I'm with Bulb but you can find an affordable option for you at www.bigcleanswitch.org/tearfund
You can switch your mobile phone contract to EcoTalk too - and the money will go to planting new forests in the UK.
Set yourselves limits - sacrificial living speaks volumes:
Quit (or reduce) meat and dairy. I'm trying to only have meat on really special occasions, like Christmas, a birthday, Easter - and at those times aiming to have organic British meat. The rest of the time, I'm veggie and gradually becoming vegan - it's actually really easy and I'm eating much nicer food than before!
Quit (or reduce) flying and driving - speaking to myself in this one. Can we do more skype meetings, use the train for Europe and holiday closer to home? Discover some of the beautiful places this island has to offer. I'm discovering lots this year by walking in 10+ national parks. How about setting yourselves distances under which you'll walk or cycle instead of drive?
Lifestyle change by itself won't save the world but when we make big sacrifices and start living in a different way, businesses and government notice and have to follow. Just think about Blue Planet II - we started using less plastic and now you virtually never see a plastic straw in a pub/restaurant and the government have invested millions into solutions.
Let's live differently, embody the world we're calling for, and speak up to make it happen.
Let's put our money where our mouth is.
Investing in solutions and support those already affected:
Obviously, you can donate to my year of fundraising for the climate. I'm raising money for two causes: to help developing countries leapfrog fossil fuels and instead have renewable energy for everyone (through Tearfund) and to protect rainforests like the Amazon, which are hug carbon-sinks and essential to us beating climate change (with CoolEarth).
If we can afford it, let's be pioneers of electric cars and install solar panels on our homes (and churches and workplaces). As more and more of us who can afford it commit to these solutions, we make it accessible for everyone else.
Let's donate to fab organisations leading the way: Client Earth, 350 .org, Cool Earth, Citizens Climate Lobby UK, Friends of the Earth, Feedback, 10:10 and lots of others. Or find local organisations and causes you can support: If you're in the south east - support the Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign, or if you're in the north east, support the Coal Action Network campaigning to stop a new coal mine being opened at Druridge Bay.
I'm sure I've missed lots of things that are important, but from this list I want to ask:
What will you do to stand in solidarity with the school strikes today?
To the children and teenagers leading the way, thank you.