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via Instagram @birdgirluk

3 climate activists explain the IPCC’s climate report and hope for future

The UN’s report warning of ‘code red for humanity’ due to detrimental and ‘irreversible’ climate changes is devastating and terrifying – Wallace Mazon, Adam Corner, and Mya-Rose Craig tell us where we go from here

Last week (August 9), the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new climate report – restating the dangers of rising temperatures and extreme weather which will see an increasing amount of “catastrophic” effects on the planet. In a post on Instagram, Greta Thunberg stated that this info contained “no real surprises”, although the UN Chief described it as a “code red for humanity”.

In short, the 1,300-page, 13-chapter report states that humans have caused “irreversible” damage to the planet, resulting in an almost 1.5 degree celsius rise in global temperature since the mid-20th century. Otherwise, it warns that the rise of sea levels has tripled compared with 1901 to 1971, and extreme heat waves and weather events, such as forest fires, droughts, and flash floods will increase “in frequency and intensity”.

“The climate crisis has been here. Everyday, we see and feel (its) effects,” said Wallace Mazon, a Florida-based activist working towards climate-centred legislation change through the youth-led climate organisation, Sunrise Movement. “Just last week, massive abnormal flooding in Omaha, Nebraska ruined communities. This winter we saw Texas freeze while politicians did nothing. Wildfires are destroying communities in the West, burning homes to the ground, while residents are forced to breathe toxic ash. The latest IPCC report confirms that half measures are not enough.”

Continuing, Mazon notes that the IPCC report’s most damning information was how little time we have left. As stated in the report, unless we make significant changes to our C02 production levels, temperatures could rise to a 1.5 to 2 degree celsius increase within the next 13 years – which would have a detrimental effect on the planet. To combat the increase, Mazon suggests that US President Biden passes the Green New Deal, and helps to “hold fossil fuel companies and elected officials accountable for the mess they made”. 

Adam Corner, an environmental expert specialising in climate change communication, also feels that we’re not acting fast enough. “Sadly big new scientific reports don't create social change; they set the political agenda in lots of important ways but they can only take us so far,” he stated. “Governments have to lead us out of this, no question about it, but ordinary people – as voters – are crucial here. We can show politicians at the ballot box how much we want them to prioritise the climate crisis and invest in green jobs.”

Further, he explained that while change lies in the fossil fuel industry and government action after centuries of damage, the uptake of new clean energy technologies, such as insulation, electric vehicles and heat pumps, hang on public acceptance and support. Therefore – public organising will be vital.

Meanwhile, 19 year-old British-Bangladeshi ornithologist and activist, Dr Mya-Rose Craig, explained, “I think the most important finding from the recent IPCC report was that an escape from human-caused climate change is no longer possible.” She continued: “We can only stop things from getting worse.”

Craig, who spotlights thirty climate activists of colour in her book We Have a Dream, also stated that we must seek “diversity and diversity of thought” in order to create conversations about the report, instead of just speaking between the privileged few. 

“Through speaking to diverse groups, we will be able to solve the crisis together. Indigenous communities from around the world have long had sustainable lifestyles and as a result are often the most engaged with our ecosystems,” she said. “This means that they are the first and most directly affected by shifts in the natural order, and should be at the forefront of the decision-making process.”

Besides calling for a larger investment in lowering carbon emissions by the UK government, Craig encourages people to educate themselves, read the report, and, rather than feeling anxiety about its findings, look for ways to alter the current narrative in a positive and productive way – whether through protesting in the streets, phoning your representatives, or joining environmental-focused organisations. 

“It’s important for people to find out exactly what it is they are passionate about and channel that into action. If you care deeply about something, it doesn’t matter what age or nationality you are, you have the capacity to make a difference,” she said. “No one is too small or insignificant to enact change in the world.”