Code Red for Humanity: Actions You Can Take Right Now

Anyone else feeling freaked out about the IPCC report? It is frankly terrifying, although it’s not really “new” news if you’ve been listening to the warnings of climate scientists over the last few years. Climate breakdown is happening more quickly than predicted, and the window to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is quickly closing. We are reaching dangerous irreversible tipping points that will have devastating impacts on ecosystems and all life on the planet.

The world needs to meet this wake-up call with the speed and scale the response requires. The message from the IPCC is clear: “stabilising the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” We must all implement solutions that stop emissions from entering the atmosphere – that’s us as individuals, as well as governments and businesses.

Whilst it’s encouraging that climate change, or more accurately climate breakdown, made the news headlines for a day, this is not just yesterday’s news to be forgotten about. It’s an emergency and everyone needs to act like it’s an emergency!

Code Red means everyone needs to take action. Climate breakdown will affect every single person on the planet, as well as children who haven’t even been born yet. We all need to take responsibility for our actions, as everyone’s actions count and make a difference. This means thinking about the climate impact of our decisions.

It’s easy to despair and feel helpless in the face of such a massive existential issue as climate breakdown. It’s easy to think we’re all doomed anyway, so what’s the point of trying to change things, we might as well enjoy life. It’s easy to think it’s such a big issue that surely someone in charge (this current Tory government?!) will sort it out.

“Hopefully” that is the case and the powers that be in wealthy countries will get their act together at Cop26 and take meaningful action, not just offer words of hope. However, even now, the UK government is boasting of its “world leading” climate plans while at the same time giving the go-ahead to new oil and gas fields and investing in building new roads. Having said that, we must have hope and remain optimistic.

But there is no point in hope without action! Taking any action on the climate, whether that’s a “big” action like installing a heat pump or a “small” action such as meal planning, is a positive step that will make a difference, if enough of us do it. And doing something is far better for your mental health than feeling helpless and doing nothing (check out our post on coping with eco-anxiety). However, we can’t do it alone and the changes we make as individuals need to be matched by serious actions and system changes by governments.

Here are some Code Red actions you can do right now as an appropriate response to the IPCC report:

1. Write to your MP and local councillor

Our MPs and councillors are elected representatives who work for us, the people. They need to know what matters most to us. So now is the time to let them know that this is an emergency and there is no time to lose in acting to avert the worst-case scenarios of climate breakdown. Find their contact details at https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons and https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-councillors.

You don’t have to write an essay. Simply say how you feel (ie. scared, terrified etc) about the IPCC report and ask them to commit to pushing for solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If there is a relevant local issue, mention your views on it to your local councillor. For example, there are plans for solar farms in Wiltshire (good), but also plans to build an incinerator (bad). Mention national or global issues to your MP, such as Cop26, a replacement for the Green Homes Grant, or incentives for electric vehicles.

2. Make your money matter

If you bank with a UK high street bank there’s a good chance your hard-earned cash is being used to fund fossil fuel companies. Money from current accounts, savings and pensions is used to support the fossil fuel industry. Moving your money to a more ethical institution (and letting your existing bank know why you’re leaving) sends a clear signal that investment in fossil fuels is not acceptable.

Check out Switch It to see how your bank is doing and find better options. You can find out more about which banks are the biggest investors in fossil fuels and which are the more ethical banks and building societies here. For info on pensions visit Make My Money Matter.

3. Switch your energy supplier

If you haven’t already done it, switching to a renewal energy supplier is one of the easiest eco-actions you can take. You can even do it from your sofa! Check out 8 Easy Eco-Actions for tips on choosing a genuinely green supplier or head to Big Clean Switch to compare quotes.

4. Buy nothing new

According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, with textile production contributing more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined. Greta Thunberg has called for a “system change” in the fashion industry. So, by aiming to buy nothing new like us (and Greta!) and not supporting fast-fashion you can reduce the carbon footprint of your clothing. As we said in a recent post “ain’t no shame in some hand-me-downs”!

5. Take to the streets

History has shown us that mass civil disobedience can bring about real and rapid change. That’s why we support all the climate activists all over the world who take to the streets to protest non-violently. After a break from big actions during the lockdowns of 2020, Extinction Rebellion are back on the streets of London from 23rd August to 3rd September. They are targeting the City of London and demanding that the government “stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately”. This is a huge opportunity for everyone who cares about climate breakdown to join together on the streets to demand the government takes immediate action. The more of us who turn out, the bigger the impact – so, if you can, go to London for a day (or more) and support the Rebellion.

It’s down to each and every one of us to make change happen, even if you feel overwhelmed and don’t think there’s any point in even trying. Inaction is not an option and would be disastrous. And the benefits of taking action are a better world for future generations – your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren – with cleaner air, a healthier lifestyle and a biodiverse natural world. We’ve been told categorically by the IPCC that it’s “Code Red for humanity”, so we all have to act now – otherwise the planet and life as we know it is screwed! But don’t panic – turn your fear and anxiety into positive action!

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