“We’ve got this.”
When climate advocate and Nobel laureate, Al Gore, took to the TED stage in July this year, to tell the audience he was convinced that we’re going to solve the climate crisis, many listeners’ eyebrows twitched with skepticism.
Easy to see why. Everywhere you look, the climate crisis is mercilessly at work: lacerating economies, bulldozing futures, gnashing away at livelihoods, starving people, and pushing the most vulnerable even further into extreme poverty. Each day brings fresh news of the climate crisis’ injustice, as it goes about devastating the lives of those who have done the least to cause this emergency.
Meanwhile, the biggest fossil fuel companies (you know, the ones that have contributed the most to the climate crisis) posted $100 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2023 alone.
We do, however, have the solutions. The climate crisis, contrary to what a barrage of apocalyptic headlines and years of climate conferences failing to deliver any real results might have led you to believe, is a solvable problem. It isn’t, however, the kind of fight where we either succeed or fail.
Then again, failure is simply not an option, not when the planet we call home is at stake. There is a way out of the climate crisis, here’s how we get there.
We can find the money.
The climate crisis is an expensive problem. Extreme weather events fueled by human-caused climate change have cost around $4 trillion over the past 50 years, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The good news is that the world's development banks (think of them as banks that do good), like the World Bank, have the power to mobilize way more financing to fight the climate crisis — they just need to make critical changes and decisions in order to do so effectively.
An important part of this urgent global financial reform is the reallocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from wealthy countries to the countries that most need assistance in the fight against the climate crisis.
In fact, the global ambition set at the G20 in 2021 was to disperse $100 billion through the voluntary channeling of SDRs. But that $100 billion target has not yet been met. As of February 2023, the total of reported combined pledges was around $87 billion.
Another potential source of cash could come from taxing the shipping industry — a sector that has so far largely escaped taxation because what happens on the high seas is not in the jurisdiction of any single government.
If we taxed carbon emissions, it would not only encourage the shipping industry to go green faster, but the money raised from those taxes, possibly $100 billion a year, could be channeled to poorer countries to help them fight the climate crisis.
Yet another avenue is the $100 billion in yearly climate financing promised by the world’s wealthiest nations back in 2009 that has yet to be delivered.
We can stop climate vulnerable countries drowning in debt.
When climate change-induced disasters happen in low- and middle-income countries — and lead to anything from health crises to food shortages — there’s very little wiggle room for them to find cash to respond to them, let alone put money aside “just in case.”
A big reason for this is debt. Instead of spending money on public services, these nations are having to cough up steep debt repayments. In fact, those repayments are currently at their highest level in 25 years.
But there is a solution: debt pause clauses, which would suspend debt repayments in time of crisis, thereby freeing up money to help countries respond to and withstand disasters.
We can cut emissions.
Scientists widely agree that it's crucial to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half by 2030. They also emphasize the importance of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 to address the severe consequences of the climate crisis.
Enter the Race to Zero, a United Nations-led campaign that calls on businesses, cities, regions, investors, and financial and educational institutions to do just that.
So far over 11,309 non-state actors have signed up, including: 8,307 companies, 595 financial institutions, 1,136 cities, 1,125 educational institutions, and 65 health care institutions, making it the largest ever alliance committed to hitting net zero carbon emissions.
We can transition to renewable energy.
Renewable energy — from our good friends the sun, wind, and water — has the potential to positively impact the entire global population, and it’s a win-win situation.
Not only would investing in clean energy reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and result in 30 times the number of jobs created by a comparable investment in fossil fuels, it’s also already way cheaper than burning fossil fuels.
You can help.
Whoever you are, wherever you live, you can help by joining the movement tackling the world's biggest challenges in the mission to end extreme poverty, downloading the Global Citizen app, and taking action today.
You can also take our quiz to learn more about climate finance, sign a global petition calling on world leaders to power our planet, lend your voice to urge UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not to turn his back on global climate action, put pressure on the US Congress to find new avenues to fulfill the US’ climate pledge, and lots more.