Imagine you’re on a bus traveling through a warzone. The bus collides with an oncoming vehicle and somersaults off a cliff. When you come to, everything is chaos around you. The friend you were traveling with is trapped, calling your name, and begging for help. A few feet further away, an injured baby is crying out in pain. At the same time, you can hear the unmistakable ticking of a bomb, but you don’t know where it is, or when it’ll go off. In the not-too-distant distance you can hear gunfire.

You're overwhelmed, everything is happening at once, and it all needs your attention. Do you act, or do you freeze? 

This is the moral situation you might feel yourself in in relation to the world today — and particularly the climate emergency. It’s like playing whack-a-mole with dire environmental realities. If it’s not the worrying levels of carbon emissions we’re pumping into the atmosphere keeping you up at night, it’s the loss of biodiversity, or the deforestation crisis

The understandable response might be to break down in panic. That would be totally fair and there’s definitely room for anger in the climate movement. In fact, according to a recent study by Norwegian scientists, anger is the most powerful emotion by far for spurring climate action. It’s helpful to know, for that’s exactly what we need those powerful emotions to turn into: action.

COP is an annual climate summit organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is a UN body that focuses on climate issues. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, meaning a meeting of countries. In 2023, it will be held for the 28th time in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

If you’re angry, or desperate, both, or just want to do something to help, here are some of the most urgent actions you can take right now at COP28 to land a couple blows right in the climate emergency’s nuts. 

1. Urge the world’s decision-makers to end deforestation now.

From the Amazon to the Congo Basin, our rainforests are one of nature’s strongest weapons against climate change and a cornerstone of our planet's health. But years of deforestation are driving these vital areas to the point of no return.

Last year, countries pledged to protect 30% of nature by 2030. Now they need to act to keep that pledge.

We can't let promises remain empty — sign this petition to urge leaders to protect our rainforests now.

2. Sign the petition calling on leaders not to gas Africa.

African land is not a gas station. Millions are losing their homes, don’t have access to food, have their health threatened, and are slipping into higher levels of extreme poverty because of the fossil fuel industry.

Instead of selling fossil fuel extraction rights to big multinational companies, African leaders should invest in clean, renewable energies that will directly benefit people across the continent without damaging their health.

But right now, an African Union committee has proposed an expansion in fossil fuels. We can’t let that happen.

Sign the petition asking African leaders to reject this proposal and prioritize evidence-based policies around a just transition to renewable energy.

3. Tell the White House to end climate justice delays. 

It's been two years since President Biden pledged over $11 billion in aid for climate-vulnerable communities. Have these funds been delivered? No. 

Urge the White House to step up now for global climate justice.

4. Sign a petition to prioritize the safety of environmental defenders and push for their participation in global climate talks.

Environmental defenders are on the front lines of climate justice. Yet, their important voices are frequently overlooked in global decision-making forums. 

Call on governments to acknowledge the role of environmental defenders and guarantee their participation in climate talks by signing our petition now.

5. Get world leaders to support a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis, yet words like "coal" and "oil" are not mentioned in the Paris agreement. Not even once.

We need governments to support a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to tackle the crisis at its root — no more fossil fuels.

Join us in making that demand by signing the petition now

6. Tell banks to stop pouring billions into the fossil fuel industry.

In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that there should be no investment in new oil, gas, or coal if we want to avoid climate catastrophe.

Yet, the UK’s banks are pouring billions into the companies at the forefront of oil and gas expansion. This action is jeopardizing our futures.

Tell the banks you won’t bank on them financing our extinction.

7. Tell the UK to stop failing on climate action.

A new report has revealed the UK is failing on almost every climate target on nearly every front in the middle of a climate emergency. This political failure by the government is a betrayal of current and future generations around the world.

Tell us why it's important the UK sticks to its climate promise and we'll hand your messages over to the Prime Minister.

8. Call for shipping emissions to fund climate action.

Tackling the climate crisis is a huge and expensive challenge. 

One potential source of cash could come from taxing the shipping industry — a sector which 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 shippers 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.

Tweet the USA and Germany to support a shipping emissions tax now.

9. Sign the petition calling on world leaders to support climate vulnerable countries.

The Loss and Damage Youth Coalition is campaigning for climate justice outcomes at COP28. Loss and damage refers to the costs of recovering from climate impacts such as extreme storms, rising sea levels, severe droughts, and powerful wildfires that destroy lives, infrastructure, and economic sectors.

Sign this petition calling for decision-makers at COP28 to follow through on their promise to support climate-vulnerable countries and to heed the demands of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition. 

10. Congratulate Colombia for standing for a fossil-free future.

At COP28, after thousands of Global Citizens tweeted the Colombian government, the Latin American country formally announced its support for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty to prevent the “omnicide of planet Earth.”

Congratulate Colombia for this major climate win and urge other nations to follow their lead by tweeting now

11. Urge the world’s decision-makers to invest in a food secure world.

80% of people in extreme poverty live in rural areas and depend on smallholder farms for their livelihoods.

As climate change advances, so do the challenges experienced by these communities. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an international financial institution and specialized UN agency, that invests in rural people, empowering them to increase their food security, improve the nutrition of their families, and increase their incomes needs funding.

Support Indigenous People, youth, and farmers by calling on leaders to invest in food security through IFAD: add your name.

12. Demand that big polluters pay up.

While big oil is raking in record profits, the countries least responsible for climate change are facing devastating impacts. 

Nations profiting from fossil fuels have a moral obligation to support communities suffering as a result of their actions.

Taxing fossil fuel profits could unlock billions for climate action. Call on countries to make it happen at COP28: tweet them now.

13. Ask world leaders to champion a fossil fuel tax at COP28

With the COP28 Conference underway, the climate leadership of countries like France, Kenya, Barbados, Brazil, and of the European Commission becomes ever more crucial.

These countries have the unique potential to influence global policy and push major emitting countries towards adopting a windfall tax on fossil fuel profits. Such a tax could generate significant resources to support nations who are the least responsible – but most affected – by climate change impacts.

Their commitment at COP28 to advocate for this tax could mark a turning point in global climate action, ensuring that those profiting from fossil fuels contribute to mitigating its effects on vulnerable communities. Tweet them now.

14. Tell Germany to walk the talk.

Germany has promised bold climate action but has yet to commit its fair share in climate finance. COP28 is Germany's moment to meet this commitment and take additional action on the world stage.

Tweet the chancellor, Germany's state secretary and special envoy for international climate action, and its minister for foreign affairs now.

15. Stand with environmental defenders. 

Environmental defenders make an incredible contribution to climate action at the risk of their lives and freedoms. 

Often left out of decision-making forums, these defenders deserve recognition at COP28 and future summits.

Urge governments to recognize the critical role of environmental defenders and ensure their active participation at COP28 by tweeting now.

16. Thank the Netherlands for pledging support for farmers at COP28

Climate change has put pressure on ecosystems that farmers depend on to grow food. 

World leaders are starting to step up to ensure they have the right tools to adapt to the changing climate.

Thank the Netherlands for their incredible 80% increase to IFAD, and call others to step up. Send a message now.


Defend the Planet

16 Things You Can Do Right Now to Turn up the Heat on World Leaders at COP28

By Tess Lowery