Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
The Most Important Climate Actions You Can Take Now
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
10 ways to step up your collective effort
With communities around the world experiencing extreme events (droughts, floods, fires, heat domes, etc.), it’s clear that the climate crisis already looms large. If we want to minimize both the rise in global temperature and the severity of its impact, we must step up our climate action now. While individual efforts (those we take in our own homes and daily lives) are necessary, they are nowhere near enough to make the changes needed in our societies. We need to take collective and systemic climate action.
So, what does this mean for us as individuals?
As I wrote in an earlier article, our greatest impact may be engaging those in our close circles to take climate action with us and joining local community efforts to halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. It is in these two places (close circles and community) where we can leverage our relationships to make change happen from the “middle out.”
10 Ways to Take Collective Climate Action
There are many ways to take collective action. Here are a few to get you started:
1. Talk with family, friends, and neighbors about climate change. (See this article on how to talk to others about climate change). Invite them to join you in creating a community effort, like planting trees, getting your local school to install solar panels, cleaning up waste in public spaces, or creating a Climate Victory Garden together.
2. Join a local chapter of environmental organization working on climate change. Organizations, like The Sierra Club, 350.org, The Climate Reality Project, Climate Action Network, and Citizens Climate Lobby, have member groups around the world that engage in community efforts to implement climate efforts and policy. For instance, in the county where I live in Maryland, these groups have commented on the County’s climate plan and asked the County to step up its divestment from fossil fuels.
3. Demand your local and state representatives pass bills that declare climate emergencies and then create specific plans to reduce GHG emissions by 2030. The Climate Emergency Declaration organization has information on who has declared emergencies so far, a list of petitions, and a toolbox to use in your local efforts.
4. Advocate for renewable energy in your community. Ask that your local government commit to using only renewable energy in government buildings, pass policies that make it easier for community solar projects to be built and invest in infrastructure for electric vehicles.
5. Lobby for electric school buses in your community. Join forces with organizations, like CHISPA and Mothers Out Front in the U.S., which are leading the #Cleanrides4kids movement.
6. Call or write to your local Congressional Representatives in the U.S. asking them to support the Green New Deal for Public Schools that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2021 by Representative Jamaal Bowman. It outlines a plan to invest $1.43 trillion over 10 years in sustainable upgrades to school buildings and the expansion of social services and curriculum upgrades in low-income districts.
7. Attend a local gathering organized by a youth climate movement organization, like Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Fridays For Future. Ask them what support they need and help provide it.
8. Take part in the call for climate justice. In the U.S., organizations like Climate Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Earthjustice bring together community organizations to lead a just transition to a regenerative economy.
9. Join an effort to stop the building of gas and oil pipelines. In the U.S., several pipelines have recently shut down, but there is still a major effort to stop Line 3.
10. Write to your national and regional representatives asking them to support and pass bold policies that help agriculture become net-zero. In the U.S., there are two acts legislators have introduced in Congress: The Growing Climate Solutions Act (aims to streamline and reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers, and foresters who want to take part in carbon offset markets) and the Agriculture Resilience Act (gives farmers the tools they need to become net-zero by 2040).
Stepping Up Your Collective Action
While I understand that you, like all of us, lead a busy life, to meet the demands of the climate emergency, we all need to step up our collective efforts. It’s going to take everyone, everywhere going all-in on climate action. I know this won’t be easy, and this is the moment where we need to stretch beyond our comfort zones before this global crisis does it permanently for us.
Which action (s) will you commit to taking now?
I am going to be lobbying for electric school buses, writing my representatives to support the green new deal for public schools and the two agriculture bills.
I wish you all the best in your collective action.