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3 Questions to Ask After the New IPCC Climate Report

We can still tackle the climate crisis, but we need to act big

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© Toby Matthews/Ocean Image Bank

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released this week details how future climate impacts are going to affect our society, and many of us may be wondering what the future holds. It is increasingly obvious that stability and security, justice and peace, food and shelter—basic necessities and human rights—are not a given. We must demand them of our leaders and align our own actions to secure them.

While all the news this week has been difficult to absorb, I am confident that we as individuals and our leaders know exactly what we need to do regarding climate change. Climate change is a problem which has a known solution: We must dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and prepare now for intense climate impacts.

As the CEO of Ocean Conservancy, I naturally look to our ocean. There, we can tackle shipping emissions, which are projected to generate 18% of all global emissions by 2050. We can decrease production of virgin plastic that comes from fossil fuels and pollutes our ocean as well. We can find opportunities for alternative energy like offshore wind and other marine renewables. We can protect coastal habitats, like mangroves and sea grasses, which can serve as critical tools to guard communities from intensifying storms while also safely storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We can upgrade and relocate our coastal infrastructure to ensure we provide safe drinking water to families and keep wastewater out of rivers and bays. While we are staring down possibly the biggest challenge humans have ever faced, we also have solutions ready to be implemented.

This IPCC report, based on research by 270 of the world’s leading scientists, clearly lays out that we have choices to make. If we continue on our current path, we will see our ocean deteriorate before our eyes. If we want to save our planet, our coastal communities and our ocean, we must take action now. Some of the changes in our ocean will be irreversible. For every day we wait, we will lose more of the incredible habitats and creatures in the ocean.

What can we do to tackle the climate crisis?

Each IPCC report brings grim headlines that may leave all of us feeling hopeless. We still have a chance to tackle the climate crisis, but we need action on a grander scale than anything we’ve done to date. You play a vital role in changing our future as an ocean advocate. When thinking about what you can do, it might be helpful to ask three questions:

1) What should the government be doing?

We need bold plans and execution at all levels of government to combat climate change. In the U.S., Congress must pass the climate elements of the Build Back Better Act. We must hasten the transition to renewable energy, end fossil fuel subsidies and investments in related projects and invest in coastal restoration and protection. You can take action with Ocean Conservancy today.

You can also go a step further by calling and meeting with your congressional representatives to urge them to support legislation to address the climate crisis. This is an opportunity to tell your story about why climate change is important to you as their constituent. Was your community hit by an unprecedented weather event? Do you live in a coastal community at risk from sea level rise? No matter what your experience is, your voice can be a powerful tool to get your elected officials to prioritize climate action and understand the urgency in which we must act.

2) What can corporations do?

Just 100 companies are responsible for 70% of global emissions. It is important that we hold corporations accountable through government rules and regulations and by using our purchasing power as consumers, board members or employees.

You can support companies taking meaningful climate action with your purchasing choices. You can also look into your bank or investment accounts to see if they are invested in fossil fuel companies and choose options that support greener companies. It’s important if you’re canceling a service or switching to a new product to tell the company why you are switching. Enough people taking this step can be a powerful motivation for these companies to rethink their practices. You can also look at how your own workplace contributes to climate change and advocate for changes that reduce carbon emissions. These actions might feel like a drop in a bucket, but they can add up and force companies to make significant change.

3) What can I do?

While any one person cannot “fix” climate change, there are things we all can do to tackle this huge challenge. There are ways we can minimize our climate impact, like reducing our energy and water consumption, composting food waste or choosing to take public transit, bike or walk instead of driving. We can also look beyond ourselves and find ways to help our friends, family and neighbors get involved in putting pressure on government and corporations. One of the best ways of doing this is simply talking more about it. Discussions about climate change can engage other people in the movement and help them find ways to take action in their own lives. This work is hard and having climate buddies by our sides can provide support and push us to act on climate together.

The IPCC report not only provides the foundational science we need to understand climate change, it also serves as the warning call we need to take action. It is up to all of us to hear this siren and demand a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is a problem with clear solutions, and the time is now to make those bold, sweeping changes to save our ocean, our planet and our communities.

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