In this mini-series, we focus on the lifelines - the enabling policies, supportive economic infrastructure, and leadership role models - that will help us collectively meet fast-approaching climate deadlines. Why? Because we need to show how each actor can make a difference, rather than overwhelming ourselves with increasingly urgent deadlines for what seems an overly daunting task.
Imagine a leading authority in your life told you tomorrow that you must run a marathon in four weeks’ time in under four hours, or the world will come to an end - the chances are you would chuckle in their face. No chance! That’s too soon, too fast, and what’s more, you haven’t got any running kit. So, you might say you’ll do it - because you’re being told you have to and you wish to please them (even though you can’t get your head behind the world truly coming to an end). But in your mind, you dismiss it as impossible and stay on the couch.
If, however, that same authority explained that running would make you feel better, be healthier, live longer, and suggested that the local community begin a running club, now that might spark your interest. If that authority went on to offer coaching sessions, provide good running shoes, and help foster a team spirit - friends to run with and from whom you could also learn - in the space of four weeks, you would feel energised, supported, and inspired to run faster. You might also want to show other communities the benefits of your new lifestyle; perhaps they should follow suit.
This analogy might seem trivial, but that’s how I think about the current context of climate action.
Over the last decade, progress towards delivering the landmark Paris Agreement remains woefully inadequate - exacerbating inequality globally, undermining human dignity, worsening losses and damages which puts pressure on adaptive and resilience-building capacities, and is accelerating the destruction of nature.
In the face of this slow progress, scientists importantly continue to repeat and strengthen their stark warnings of the dangers we face. Each new report highlights increasing risks, with scientists incontrovertibly warning that 1.5C is increasingly out of reach without urgent mitigation. Stricter deadlines, stronger threats and more aggressive criticism rack up from civil society, governments and multilateral bodies - often directed at corporations.
So people have a right - and a reason - to be sceptical. To be angry. These deadlines, this pressure and this scepticism is certainly needed for those (many) actors who have yet to take any meaningful steps towards climate action yet continue to flaunt public statements of intent which end up empty.
However, I don’t believe that anger and scepticism are emotions that help foster positive change. I think we need to better draw out the science-based signals of positive, exponential change underway which can help us refine our strategies for accelerating climate action. Because the fact is, many entities are serious about climate action - and they need help from those often pointing the finger. Businesses currently face an unhelpful predicament in taking climate action: there’s no level playing field, no regulatory policy that helps derisk bold initiatives, external pressure from civil society - not to mention the nefarious politicising of these issues with anti-climate lobbyists dangerously attacking those actors who are taking bold ambitious action.
It is therefore imperative to re-imagine a positive collaboration between governments, regulators, the private sector and civil society to correct market failures, reverse emissions trends and provide enabling environments to incentivise and unlock a dramatically accelerated transformation to healthier, fairer, happier lives and a more peaceful, more stable and more prosperous society.
The good news is - many of these lifelines already exist. I’m excited to explore these with our fabulous guests on this mini-series, showcasing how leading businesses are stepping up to the challenge because they know it makes business sense; discussing how laws of the world are being updated to align with net zero; highlighting how young people everywhere are signalling to employers, politicians and other leaders that they are here to help shape this better future; and assessing a new approach to communicating on climate action which can help shift our mindset and reinvigorate our agency to course correct.
Subscribe to the blog
Latest news stories
What to do about climate’s front-page paradox?
September 16, 2023
I thought fossil fuel firms could change. I was wrong
July 25, 2023
We know the deadlines; now it’s time to share the lifelines as well
May 23, 2023
What Will It Take For Us To Act?
May 18, 2023
How to Approach the Challenge of Changing the World
March 16, 2023
The Necessity of the Commons
November 02, 2022
Beyond the Gas Frenzy
September 13, 2022
Denial or Action – Nothing in Between
May 30, 2022