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For me, March has been particularly hard as I saw my beloved country, Malawi (together with Mozambique and Madagascar) ravaged by Cyclone Freddy. The videos and images that circulated social media were shocking and beyond heartbreaking. The country is in a state of emergency as they have lost over 500 people, with hundreds more missing.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries, meaning that we don’t have the structures, funds and systems to withstand such an intense climate impact. These devastating storms have hit Southern Africa just days before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its most recent synthesis report, warning that the climate crisis hits vulnerable places and communities harder, and that our window for action is narrowing.
These past weeks, Malawians, Mozambicans and Madagascans paid the price – as did many other frontline communities around the world. The science is clear: the solutions for stopping global heating are available and viable, and we need bold action now. It is only through our collective push that we can stop countries like mine having to pay the price for conditions they’re not responsible for.
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In Case You Missed It
A final warning from the IPCC report
The reports by the IPCC are no strangers to the climate movement. They are some of those anticipated documents that inform the world about the science behind the climate crisis, showing what is needed for keeping global heating within 1.5ºC. They are important because they ground our demands into research, they translate our lived experiences into measurable scientific data.
The latest report was released on March 20th. The 6th assessment synthesis report, known as AR6, summarises the last eight years of scientific research. And it has taken an interesting angle, telling the world we need an economic system change. In practical terms, that means we need to completely abandon fossil fuels, and implement ‘ambitious mitigation pathways…in existing economic structures’, and factoring in wealth distribution.
A very promising point was that it also mentions how 1.5ºC is still reachable, if we take bold climate action right now. The report also leaves no doubt about the path we need to walk ahead, together. And climate justice is a central element. Cyclones, drought, floods, landslides, heatwaves, water scarcity and water borne diseases affect women, elderly and low income communities much harder. And exponentially, as temperature rises.
Every fraction of a degree of heating that we can stop, matters. Transformational change lies with humanity working together to tackle climate change.
Climate science jargon explained
Pathways, overshoot, mitigation… Many of us read about the IPCC reports in the media, with data already digested by journalists. But even then some of the jargon used may be hard to understand.
Activists hold an action at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh
Information is power. And we believe climate science needs to be accessible. That’s why we prepared a quick glossary with some key terms for understanding this last IPCC report better. Have a look to get acquainted with the climate science jargon!
A fossil fuel free Pacific
Just this title should give you goosebumps. A block of 6 Pacific countries (Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and the Solomon Islands) committed to a “fossil fuel free Pacific” and agreed on new Pacific-tailored development pathways based on 100% renewable energy. Some of their listed include “dramatically scaling up the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies across all sectors”, and “developing national just transition plan.” This commitment comes after Vanuatu was hit by two severe cyclones and an earthquake in 48 hours.
These Pacific island nations are similar to countries like Malawi, they bear almost no historical responsibility yet are plunged into chaos through rising sea water and extreme weather conditions. Their commitment is admirable as they ask other countries to join them in an equitable phase out of coal, oil and gas. They want to create a better, a more just world – a world where fossil fuels do not exist, and frontline communities like theirs don’t have to pay the price
Climate justice today
…because tomorrow is too late.
Photo credit: SEECTO / 350 Bangladesh
On March 3 hundreds of thousands of people once again came together demanding an end to fossil finance, in a new wave of Climate Strikes organised by Fridays for Future. The actions were scattered across the globe from Bangladesh, Germany, Austria, Kenya, and many more locations under the slogan #TomorrowIsTooLate. Most of these actions had one thing in common, banners and placards calling for “climate justice now”. Each action was unique to its country with some bringing their culture along for a performance.
This annual global movement is always one I anticipate, because the masses come in numbers to call out governments and leaders on taking responsibility for the climate crisis we are in. The profits from the fossil fuel industries won’t save our planet, nor will they save all those vulnerable communities who are being affected by climate impacts. The global movements are rising, and more and more people are coming together to demand climate justice.
One to Watch
Gender inequality and climate change are deeply connected. The climate crisis escalates social, political and economic tensions in contexts in which women are more vulnerable. Several studies also show that women are more likely to die because of climate impacts, and less likely to get assistance in the aftermath of disasters. Women are often victims of our heating world, but also leaders in finding and fighting for solutions.
To truly honour International Women’s Day, our team got the opportunity to sit down with women who are in the frontline of our fight. We travelled to North Sumatra, in Indonesia, where we heard from women in Pangkalan Susu. They are fiercely opposing a coal power plant that puts their lives in danger and creates huge losses and challenges for their livelihood.
They’re fighting for a fossil-free future, and we stand in solidarity!
USE YOUR POWER
Reforming the World Bank.
I quickly googled the World Bank so I can better explain this, and according to their website “they are a unique global partnership fighting poverty worldwide through sustainable solutions”. Sustainable solutions are what we mostly hear in the climate movement, because we need to move away from burning fossil fuels completely. They are not sustainable, and we need clean energy.
In order to achieve this, we need this global institution to fund solutions like renewable energy. We need them reformed and ensure that their lending policies and funding is focussed on equity and a just transition. Now, in case you didn’t know, the bank has a new incoming president, Ajay Banga. That is why we are making demands so that when he comes into office, reforming the World Bank to meet the double challenge of the climate and economic crises will be at the top of his to-do-list.
SKILL UP YOUR ACTIVISM
“Do you think it will rain today?
Well, not sure. But according to the IPCC, the amount of rainfall will drastically decrease in the near future in some parts of the world if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels now.”
What better topic for a conversation over a coffee, tea or beer than the state of our climate, and how to take action for our future, right?
Seriously speaking now, the release of the latest report is a great opportunity to engage people who are not so familiar with the climate crisis and bring them to our movement. With the solid data available and the attention it gets from the media, it’s the perfect hook for moving friends and family into climate action!
To help you on those conversations, we selected a website that explains all the main scientific facts from the last IPCC reports. I hope you take the time to really soak it all in – and spread it out!
IN OTHER NEWS
- Eight things the world must do to avoid the worst of climate change
- Cyclone Freddy leaves trail of destruction in Malawi
- Water and the global climate crisis: 10 things you should know
Quote of the month
“Tackling climate change is a hard, complex and enduring challenge for generations. We, the scientific community, spell out the facts of disheartening reality, but we also point to the prospects of hope through concerted, genuine and global transformational change.”
– Hoesung Lee, IPCC chair