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  • Writer's pictureKrista Kurth, Ph.D.

It’s Time to Go Further on Your Climate Action Journey

Use these six main categories of action to guide your next steps.

a man walking through a wide doorway into the sunrise
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Given the urgency of the climate emergency, we need to all step up our climate action game. As Somini Sengupta, Global Correspondent for Climate at the NYTimes, when asked by others what to do in the face this big and complicated crisis said, “we need to do everything.” I agree. Collectively and globally, we need to do everything, do it faster, and start now.


Start where you are.

Start with fear.

Start with pain.

Start with doubt.

Start with hands shaking.

Start with voice trembling but start.

Start and don’t stop. Start where you are,

with what you have.

Just… start.”

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Nigerian poet


And if you have already started, I urge you to look at how you can do more. I know it can be overwhelming amid our busy lives to wade through all the possible actions we could take and figure out our next steps. That is why I have come up with six categories of climate action. Over the past decade of being actively engaged in and writing about the topic, it has become clear to me that all the possible actions we can take fall into these six categories. I provide a description of each category, some questions for you to consider, and resources to get you started.


Six Main Categories of Climate Action

Scrabble tiles spelling Go For IT
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

1. Educate: to take effective climate action, we need to understand what the science says, what sectors of the economy emit the most greenhouse gases (GHG), and what solutions are available for solving the crisis, as well as what role we can each play in the global transformation needed.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do I want/need to learn more about the climate crisis and climate solutions?

  • What are the climate impacts that stem from my personal lifestyle?

  • What key climate issues/solutions am I most interested in and how can I learn more about them?

Resources:

a. Climate Science (science backed educational resources)

b. Climate Science, Risk, and Solutions (climate knowledge for everyone by MIT)

c. Climate Hero (carbon calculator and solutions)

e. Project Drawdown climate solutions library

f. Regeneration Nexus (extensive library of actions)

g. Act on Climate in a Way that Fits Who You Are: learn what action-taker role suits you best.

two hands together, holding coins and a sign Make a Change
Image by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

2. Donate: for those of us who have financial resources and not much time, donating to non-profit organizations working to address the climate emergency is one of the easiest things we can do.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • What organizations doing climate work would I like to give $ to?

  • How much money do I want to give? What is the most I can afford to give?

Resources:

b. Want to Fight Climate Change Effectively? Here’s where to donate your money (Vox)

d. Giving Green (a guide for effective climate giving decisions)

Red sign with white letters: Community is Strength
Photo by John Cameron

3. Participate: Once you’ve learned more about the climate crisis and your individual impact, the next step is to participate directly in climate action. There are four levels of action that Will Grant, an environmental educator, says you can take: 1) personal, where you change your lifestyle to reduce GHG emissions; 2) action you take with your close circle of family and friends; 3) working with neighbors and co-workers in your local community, like asking for community solar in your town, or asking your workplace to make the building more energy efficient; and 4) advocating for state, national, and global system changes to the economy, policies, and laws that enable the scaling up of solutions.


While I suggest starting with the first three levels, if you have limited time, Grant says our greatest impact as individuals may be at Level Three. This is where we have relationships that we can leverage to make change happen from the “middle out.” When we work to change a local institution, we impact the lives of hundreds of people in our community. Heidi Roop, a climate scientist, and author of The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone, agrees. In a NYTimes Climate Forward email on 3/24/23, she says “civic engagement is one of the most effective ways for individuals to make a difference and to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis. There is a need for collective action, but the collective is comprised of individuals.”


Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time and resources do I have for climate action?

  • What strengths, skills, and passions can I apply to climate action?

  • Which of the four levels best fit my situation?

  • What climate actions can I take at home?

  • What climate actions can I contribute to in my local community?

  • In which key sector(s) — food, finance, buildings, transportation, power/energy, industry, water, and plastics — do I want to focus my efforts?

Resources:

a. The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone.

b. It’s Not Too Late to Turn the Tide on Climate: That is, if everyone, everywhere, acts all at once. Here’s what you can do.

c. My Climate Action Commitment this Holiday Season: Join me in upping your commitment to care for the planet.

d. Climate Action at Your Fingertips: 10 mobile apps that make it easy for you to support the planet.

g. Tend the Trees. They’re Crucial to You and Climate Change: 4 ways to protect and restore forests.

two people sitting in chairs under a tree, silhouetted by the setting sun
Photo by Harli Martin on Unsplash

4. Communicate: Talking with others in our families, close circles, and communities about climate change is one effective way to influence others to act. You can share why you care about climate change and/or forward articles and emails to people you know and post on social media.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • Why do I care about the climate emergency and climate solutions? What is my climate story?

  • Who do I want to talk with about the crisis?

  • What do I want to say to each type of person (family, kids, friends, coworkers, etc.)

  • What medium do I want to use (personal conversations, sharing articles and actions, social media, personal letters, etc.)?

Resources:

a. How to Tell Compelling Climate Stories: 10 tips for talking with family and friends about climate change.

b. How to Talk with Your Kids about the Climate Crisis: 5 general tips from experts for discussing this tough issue.

c. How to Be a Resource on Climate for Your Teens: tips for supporting youth engagement in climate action.

d. Teaching Your Younger Children About Climate Change: tips for introducing two- to seven-year-old children to climate change.

sign at protest saying The Climate is changing so we should #act now
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

5. Advocate: For those of you who are already engaged in the above categories of action but are looking for more ways to be actively involved, advocacy is the next step. This is where you use your passion about solving the climate crisis to empower yourself as a citizen and join in collective action to make more systemic change happen. This corresponds to Grant’s fourth level of action. Heidi Roop in the article mentioned above, said, “Investing time, energy, and emotion in helping shape the future of your community — say, through being engaged in a community climate action plan or through sharing your own creative talents or advocacy efforts — is critical in a balanced portfolio of climate solutions work.”


Questions to ask yourself:

  • What power do I have as a citizen? What is my responsibility and what opportunities do I have to help shape the future of climate solutions?

  • What groups are advocating for climate solutions with politicians and businesses? Which one(s) do I want to join?

  • How can I participate in advocating for climate solutions (rallies, protests, petitions, sending emails to government and business leaders, etc.?)

  • How can I encourage my workplace to engage in more climate action?

  • Which politicians (local, state, national) support climate action? Who will I vote for? How can I help get out the vote for them?

  • How can I use my savings and investments to support the transition to a green economy?

Resources:

a. Harness Your Monetary Power in Support of the Climate: how to help stop the money pipeline for fossil fuels.

b. Keep it in the Ground: how you can help end the fossil fuel era.

c. The Most Important Climate Actions You Can Take Now: 10 ways to step up your collective efforts.

d. The Most Powerful Climate Action You Can Take This Year: exercise your democratic duty — vote.

e. See the list of organizations in the links in the Donate resources above to find groups to join.

Ariel view of two people's feet standing next to a sign on the ground: Passion led us here
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

6. Activate: This category of action is for those who are most committed to climate action and want to play a leadership role in scaling up solutions.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • Which climate solution(s) do I want to be actively engaged in implementing?

  • How can I play a climate action leadership role in my community, state, country, or globally?

  • How can I turn my current job into a climate job? Or do I want to change to a job working on climate?

  • What groups or projects might I help organize or lead?

Resources:

a. How to Make Your Job a Climate Job: No matter where you are, you can make a difference on climate.

b. Drawdown Labs (resource for engaging employees in climate solutions, encouraging corporate climate leadership, and shifting financial capital.

c. Climate Reality Leadership Corps (provides trainings on becoming a climate leader)


Thank you for considering taking bigger strides on your climate action journey. If you want to see even more resources, check out my Climate Action for Everyday People blog. There are more than 60 articles, all providing more resources to support your climate action.


I wish you well with your next climate action steps.


Krista/Eco-Omi





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