Climate Change: What Can We Do?

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Well supported facts show that the planet is warming because of human activities, causing our climate to change—already harming large numbers of people. We can limit the increase in global temperature, restore the environment, and reduce further damage—but this means making some big changes right now. Worldwide, by 2030 we must reduce by half the release of greenhouse gasses, especially CO2, methane, and other pollutants that cause climate change. We must eliminate them by 2050 in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This is a huge challenge—but we already have the technology, resources, and intelligence to do this. 

Efforts by government and industry have fallen short. People throughout the world must work together and demand the needed changes. Only an inclusive, powerful, global movement, based on our common interests, can make governments, communities, industries, and others take immediate action to create a just transition to sustainable economies, equitable societies, and a livable planet.

The global climate crisis is one of several damaging consequences of the oppressive and exploitative system in which we live. We cannot solve the climate crisis without also addressing other phenomena connected to the economic system, such as oppression (including racism, classism, sexism), the exploitation of people and the land, capitalism, and war. This means ending profit as the driving force in our economic system. It also means ending the divisions among people and nations and agreeing that we are all in this together. We must find solutions that are in everyone’s interests, solutions that do not harm any group for the benefit of another. Ending oppression and exploitation benefits everyone. We can reduce inequities and create a rational economy that gives everyone everywhere good lives and a livable, flourishing planet. 

The nations and people most vulnerable to climate extremes (frontline populations) are those that have been targeted with oppression, exploitation, war, and genocide (people of color, Indigenous people, working class and poor people, women). Solutions to climate change depend on the thinking, perspectives, and leadership of the frontline populations. The broader population also needs to be educated about climate change, its causes, and its possible solutions, in ways that overcome the effects of decades of misinformation and lies spread by industries and governments. To be successful, we need everyone’s informed thinking and involvement.

Decisions and actions taken in the next decade will determine if the planet is livable for the next thousand years—even though some of the effects of these actions might not actually be seen for decades. We can play a significant role. Below is our summary of key actions that we can take to secure a sustainable, safer future:

Energy use and policy

  • Rapidly transition from fossil fuel energy to energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, micro-hydro, and wave and tidal systems.  
  • End subsidies, exploration, extraction, use of and investment in fossil fuels (including fracked gas), and leave much of it in the ground.
  • Reduce energy consumption; make all energy use more efficient; convert fossil fuel-powered equipment, buildings, and appliances to electric power. 
  • Decommission nuclear reactors when they can be replaced by renewable sources of energy (not fossil fuels), and do not allow any new nuclear reactors to be built.
  • Support the development of publicly owned utilities, and community-based and led energy projects.
  • Make affordable, renewable energy accessible to all.

Resilient, sustainable communities 

  • Make countries and communities resilient, by providing everyone the resources they need to adapt to and reduce the impacts of climate change. This includes nutritious food, clean water, affordable housing, renewable electricity, health care, education, jobs with good pay and benefits, and job training.
  • Protect the Earth’s fresh water and use it for sustaining all life.
  • Encourage and support lifestyle changes, commercial changes, and zero-waste strategies that reduce consumption—especially in the wealthiest countries and communities where consumption is the highest.
  • Replace fossil fuel products, including plastics, with biodegradable materials. 
  • End war; support universal demilitarization; use military budgets to fund the transition to a sustainable, renewable, clean-energy future.
  • Address over population by providing education and self-determination for all girls and women, and making family planning services available to all who want them. 

Agriculture, other land use, and food

  • Protect and restore areas that absorb carbon from the atmosphere (such as oceans, forests, peat lands, and wetlands) led by the people who live in these areas. End deforestation and restore both tropical and temperate forests.
  • Increase plant-rich diets and reduce animal-product consumption; reduce and compost food waste.
  • Place strong limits on the use of bio-fuels.
  • Adopt climate-friendly farming and livestock-raising techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in the soil and in perennial plants.

Transportation, buildings, and other sectors

  • Provide access to widespread, affordable public transportation that is powered by renewable energy.
  • Replace gas-powered vehicles and equipment with electric-powered ones.
  • Reorganize our societies so that people rely less on travel and shipping, including living and working in their local communities.
  • Rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants, manufacture of cement, intentional burning of forests, and other high-emission practices.
  • Modify existing buildings to be energy efficient and use energy from renewable sources. Require new buildings to be near or net-zero energy. 
  • Work for zero waste industrial, construction, and production practices. 

Everyone can help

Both individual and collective actions are needed, from the local to the international level. Helpful steps include:

  • Continue learning about the climate emergency, its effects everywhere (including in frontline communities), and how to take effective action. 
  • Talk with people everywhere about climate change—the causes and consequences, the greater impacts on low-income communities, and the solutions.
  • Join organizations that are addressing these issues, and bring these issues to organizations that you are already a part of.
  • Find your voice and courage to speak out and take bigger and bolder actions than you have ever taken before to challenge this threat to us all.
  • Continue to develop your understanding of and your ability to take action against all oppressions that mistreat and divide people.
  • Lower your personal carbon footprint. There are many online resources for this. 
  • Create opportunities to listen and be listened to about worries and fears about the climate emergency so that we may all think more clearly and stay connected as the climate crisis progresses.
  • Take time to notice, appreciate, and connect with the beauty and qualities of the natural world that supports us all.
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