"Adults keep saying: 'We owe it to the young people to give them hope.”'But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is."
-Greta Thunberg, speech at Davos World Economic Forum conference, January 2017
At the UN Climate Conference, COP 25, in Madrid in December 2019, countries took steps to adopt a plan for a more gender-responsive approach to climate action. The United Nation climate change Gender Action Plan (ccGAP) includes 20 activities grouped under the priority areas: a) capacity-building, knowledge management and communication; b) gender balance, participation and women’s leadership; c) coherence; d) gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation; e) monitoring and reporting.
Gender equality and women’s rights have progressed immensely since the adoption of the most visionary agenda on women’s empowerment, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 25 years ago. This year, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in our climate response and to recognize its critical links to gender equality. In addition to the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration this year, 2020 is also the year when countries are requested to deliver stronger climate action plans to adapt and cut their emissions further and faster under the global Paris Climate Accord. Climate action is attracting a large volume of funding through increasingly diverse funding streams, but often ignores its impacts on gender equality and misses to benefit from women’s leadership and expertise on climate-related issues.
Climate change has consequences . In 2014 the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a report that was the work of thousands of scientists stating that climate change has already increased the risk of severe heat waves and other extreme weather and warns of worse to come, including food shortages and violent conflicts. We know that that poorest people in the world are the worst affected, and that while the carbon footprint of the poorest billion people is about 3% of the world's total footprint, loss of life is expected to be 500 times greater in Africa than in the wealthy countries.
Such shortages can lead people to migrate as climate refugees, leading to further health problems, and conflicts. People forced to move, whether by food shortages, floods or extreme storms may suffer serious mental and physical health problems. Despite global efforts that are improving human health overall, the following are also true:
10 million children still die every year;
200 million children under age five are undernourished;
800 million people are hungry
1,500 million people already do not have clean drinking water.
All of the above could worsen very significantly due to climate change.
Recent research indicates the ways to avoid dangerous global warming are both available and affordable:
Global poverty can only be reduced by halting global warming;
A rapid phase-out of coal from the global energy mix is among the commission’s top recommendations, due to the millions of premature deaths from air pollution this would prevent.
Carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to zero. (Currently carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling)
Reports indicate that it is POLITICAL WILL, not finance or technology that is the barrier to low-carbon economies and the associated improvements to health and poverty.
The IMF says the costs of dealing with climate change caused by CO2 emissions account for subsidies of $1.27 trillion a year.
if fossil-fuel subsidies were abolished, there would be no need to subsidize renewable energy,which receives a comparatively small $120 billion globally per year. Renewable sources would become cost-competitive with fossil fuels if the latter were priced to reflect the total costs to society of their impact.
"Today more than ever, society has come to recognize that the anthropogenic destruction of our planet’s sustainable biodiversity negatively impacts humankind, placing human life at risk. The cause-and effect relationship that exists between environmental collapse and the subsequent risk to our existence can no longer be ignored. "
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy; a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lays disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
"These fourteen planks entail over eighty policy ideas. They are deeply intertwined and should be held as a collective framework to achieve a Regenerative Economy. The planks are organized starting with a focus on championing human rights and dignity, moving into infrastructure shifts for a Regenerative Economy, and ending with how we can resource these solutions. They Include:
A NOTE FROM HELEN AND MARY KAY: As we compiled this information we wrestled with the difficulty of presenting painful truths without having a simple list of Things You Can Do. The solutions are not simple actions; they require looking into the face of the trauma that our human species is enduring during this planetary climate crises. One common reaction to trauma is to shut down or numb out. But when we refuse to do that, to not be silent and to muster the courage to open to the woundedness in and around us, we can shake off the numbness. Then we can take action.
"Trauma constantly confronts us with our fragility and with man's inhumanity to man, but also with our extraordinary resilience....Most great instigators of social change have intimate personal knowledge of trauma. Read the life history of any visionary, and you will find insights and passions that came from having dealt with devastation. The same is true of societies. Many of the most profound advances grew out of experiencing trauma: the abolition of slavery from the Civil War, Social Security in response to the Great Depression....Trauma is now our most urgent public health issues we have the knowledge necessary to respond effectively. The choice is ours to act on what we know”. Bessel van der Kolk “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma"
Now we just need the WILL to act and require of our leaders that they do what needs to be done.