How do we respond to a climate “code red?”

Unless governments take dramatic and immediate action to reduce emissions, we are headed toward climate chaos

By Climate Solutions Public Engagement Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

On Monday, the world’s leading authority on climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the world the climate is dangerously close to a tipping point that would lead to climate chaos and that human activities – primarily burning fossil fuels and deforestation – are to blame.

With deadly and record-breaking forest fires, heat waves, floods and droughts occurring around the world and here at home, too many of us are already experiencing the devastating effects of increasingly extreme weather. This report’s “code red for humanity” is reaching an already weary audience.

Fortunately, the report also shows that changing course is still within our power. The severity of climate change impacts is not a matter of chance. They will be determined by the choices we make now – all of us, every community, every country, every sector.

Leading up to the next major UN climate conference (COP26 in Glasgow in November), world leaders are facing intense pressure to increase their climate action ambition. Canada’s current commitment is to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. While this is an improvement, Canada’s targets are still critically insufficient and among the least ambitious compared to other developed countries. We need stronger targets, backed by stringent laws and regulations that quickly eliminate fossil fuel use and shift us to safer and cleaner energy sources.

Being ambitious on climate also means prioritizing solutions that are inclusive and justice-focused. Canada has committed to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and this climate crisis will test what that commitment really means.


So, how should we as individuals respond to this “code red for humanity?”

Here are some ideas:

Feel the grief and fear — Allowing yourself to feel, grieve and contemplate everything we’re going through is important.

Remember our actions matter — Realizing our actions at home and collectively can really make a difference, can feel empowering and inspire others to join.

Talk to friends and family, find support and be supportiveHave (sometimes difficult) climate conversations. Talk about your vision for a just and sustainable future. You are not alone. Support one another. Find and cultivate a support network.

Find hope and inspiration — It abounds if you look for it. There so many inspiring stories of people who are leading the transition to renewable energy in their communities and reasons to be hopeful. Hope is a key ingredient these days.

Demand bold and ambitious climate action — We need to get Canada to act on climate change with the ambition and urgency this crisis demands. Action is an important antidote to despair. Sign this action — you’ll see.

Prepare for a paradigm shift — Extreme capitalism, colonialism and a lack of respect for nature got us into this mess. We’re going to need insights and solutions from Indigenous Peoples, diverse human creativity and a refocus on equity and well-being to get us out of it.

There is so much work ahead, and as always, we must take it on together. Thank you for joining us in calling for climate justice for all.

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