If you feel that governments have a responsibility to address the climate crisis, you're not alone. The vast majority of people globally (up to 91% in some countries) say climate change should be a top priority for their own governments.
The climate crisis affects all of us, but developing countries, disadvantaged communities and people of color are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We need a united and just response, based on science and community needs, from our governments across country borders and party lines that supports every worker, community and country.
Use the power of your vote and your voice to get elected officials to take urgent, meaningful and equitable action on the climate crisis.
First, decide where to focus your efforts. It could be promoting clean energy policies in your country, opposing a new fossil fuel project close to your home, or protecting large natural areas that also capture and store carbon pollution.
Consider joining a local group to help amplify your message to politicians. Join a local chapter of organizations like 350.org, Climate Changemakers, Citizens Climate Lobby or the Climate Action Network. Or, grab a friend and try out your city or town’s meeting. Getting involved will help you have a say in the outcome of these meeting discussions. For example, your city or town may be considering banning gas in all new buildings (great!) or contemplating giving permits to new coal plants and fossil pipelines and terminals (not great). Nonprofits like Earthjustice can help with any hard-to-understand policies and legal jargon.
Writing to, calling or meeting with politicians can also be very effective. If you’re feeling unsure, find a local or national group that can help you with some talking points. For example, Call4Climate is a group that helps people in the U.S. make climate calls to their politicians.
Remember, your vote is one of the most powerful tools you have. Search for candidates and elected officials in your country who have agreed to say no to fossil fuel campaign funding (US list) or are for climate policy solutions (UK list). And encourage other people who are concerned about climate change to vote, too (see if there are local organizations working on this in your area, for example, Envirovoter in the U.S.).
You can learn more about how your government’s plans stand up to what the science requires by checking the global Climate Action Tracker (for your country) and the Global Covenant of Mayors (for your city).
Reaching out to politicians lets them know that we want them to make climate action a priority. The more we demand climate action, the harder it will be for them to ignore the policies and incentives we urgently need.
Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz from Yale University says that keeping politicians accountable is the most powerful step an individual can take to change the system. And it’s true across all levels of government - local government officials (in towns, cities, provinces or states) have a lot of power and are often easier to reach.
Although it can feel intimidating at first to speak to your politicians, many people find it a positive experience that helps them understand local issues, connect with others, and feel part of broader efforts in their community.
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By 2050, over 200 million of the world’s poorest could be forced to leave their homes due to water shortages, decreasing crop yields and conflict.
Developing countries in the global south (Africa, S. America, SE Asia) are bearing the brunt of climate change.
Developing countries in the global south (Africa, S. America, SE Asia) have contributed the least to emissions.
In fact, Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz from Yale University suggests that “joining fellow like-minded citizens to demand systemic change is perhaps the single most powerful thing that people can do.”
Policy action is needed to address climate change.
Strong public demand increases the likelihood that governments will prioritize climate change action.
The majority of people across the globe say climate change should be a “high” or “very high” priority for their own governments".
“The people most responsible for climate change historically — globally, as well as domestically — are not the same people who are feeling the pain first, worst and longest. If you’re just talking about greenhouse gases and parts per million, you’re not seeing the issues around vulnerability and justice.”
“Whether it is a global pandemic, climate change, or policy brutality, people of color — particularly black communities — are always the first and worst hit, and it must end. I think it’s a tough road ahead. But there are things we can do. Number one, we have to center black and brown voices in our struggle for a better world. Our response to this crisis must meet the urgent needs of those who are hit hardest by the pandemic and looming recession: frontline workers, immigrants, the unhoused, and black and brown people. It must be guided by an inclusive vision that deals with the root causes that got us into this crisis, and centers climate, economic, and racial justice.”