The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire warning last week: We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to do it fast to avoid catastrophic climate change.
At the current rate, our global carbon budget will be spent in the next 10 to 14 years. We can’t wait another day to start drastically reducing emissions if we hope to stay below 1.5 degree warming.
In response to the report, articles have advocated for individual actions like turning off lights, eating less meat, and recycling. One article advised that, if you can’t change your commute by walking or taking public transportation, you might benefit from upgrading to a new hybrid or electric car.
While personal choices such as investing in renewable energy and eating less meat can certainly make a difference, it’s not always that simple. For many of us, putting solar panels on our house, walking to work, or buying a hybrid car aren’t easy choices.
Emphasizing personal action puts the responsibility on the shoulders of individuals rather than addressing the structures we live in—such as capitalist markets that reinforce income inequality and institutionalized racism that propels discrimination. These structures shape our choices, and they’re what got us into this mess in the first place.
The real change that needs to happen—and fast—is big and structural. Here are three ways to take the bold action that’s needed to reverse climate change.
1. Fight Poverty
There’s no question that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and rapidly shift to renewable energy. But while some people can afford home solar panels or electric cars, these choices are out of reach for others.
Entire neighborhoods lack public transportation, and people working multiple jobs may lack the time to take it. And when it’s a challenge to pay the heating bill, it may be a luxury to think about investing in weatherization, even if it might ultimately save a few bucks.
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