On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered their ‘last call’ warning about the dangers of a rapidly warming planet. Rising seas, loss of biodiversity and increased inequality loom in our near future if we as a global community can’t get our act together and lower our greenhouse gas emissions.
For those of us who have been trying to do everything right–driving less, shopping locally and recycling anything possible–Monday’s report can feel like a major blow. The truth is that while these individual behaviours are helpful, large scale change is what is needed to avert the climate catastrophe on the horizon. Here’s what you can do to today to move that forward:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
When politicians know that serious action on climate change is important to their constituents, they take notice. Take this opportunity to get in touch with your elected officials and tell them this issue is important to you. Remind them of the critical findings of the IPCC report, and explain that you want more dramatic action on combating climate change here in the UK.
Not sure where to start? Visit TheyWorkforYou.com and enter your postcode to find your MP. Click the button to send him or her an email. Here’s what you might say:
Dear [Name of MP],
As one of your constituents, I wanted to tell you how alarmed I was by the climate change report that was released by the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change this week. As I’m sure you know, this report calls for urgent action to avoid the catastrophic results of a warming planet.
I’d like to know how you will help the UK government adopt the recommendations included in the report as soon as possible.
[Your name and address]
Another effective (and empowering) way to take action is to make a donation to one of the hundreds of charities doing work on climate change. If you don’t feel comfortable giving to an advocacy group yet, start with a donation to a charity doing something simple but important–like planting trees.
One Tree Planted is an organisation that does just that–one dollar (about £0.75) plants one tree. Easy as that. You can even pick where in the world you want your trees planted. If you want to get more seedlings in the ground locally, Trees for Life plants native trees to restore the Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Why not get your office together and donate the money you’d spend on lunch one day to plant a grove of trees? Better yet, make it a weekly event and challenge other offices to do the same.
Long gone are the days when you have to be a member of the mega-rich to fund solar projects or wind turbines. Today, ordinary people can direct some of their investments into renewable energy. If you have a financial adviser, talk with them about how you might do this as part of your overall financial plan. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll take your interest seriously and give you a set of options given your particular circumstances.
Looking for a financial adviser committed to sustainable investing? Check out the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association’s ‘Find an Adviser‘ tool.
If you don’t have a financial adviser, set aside some time to look into the increasing number of ‘off the shelf’ sustainable investment options for individuals. A good place to start is the guides over at Good With Money.
If you have a company pension, ask if it could be made greener by including some exposure to clean energy. If you and your colleagues organise to ask as a group, you might well get your employer to take action.
Earlier this year, Ireland made news by announcing it would be the first country to divest from fossil fuels. If an entire country can do it, so can we as regular citizens.
Again, your first stop is a chat with your financial adviser as well as any company pension provider you have. Tell them that you don’t want your hard-earned money propping up the fossil fuel industry, and ask how they can help. After all, your investments are supposed to help you enjoy the kind of future you deserve. That future will feel a lot brighter when you know it’s financed by money that grew in accordance with your environmental values.
At the end of the day, reusable coffee cups and biking to work are good ways to lower your personal carbon footprint. But large scale change takes groups of people banding together and supporting the kinds of policies, charities and investment options that support a cooler, more sustainable global environment. With the IPCC report as impetus, there’s no time like the present to get started.
Lauren is the Director of Thoughtful Philanthropy, an independent philanthropic advising service for individuals and organisations. She partners with financial and legal advisers to enable them to offer charitable giving services to their valued clients. For more on using your money to reflect your values, follow Lauren on Twitter @laurenjanus.
I am passionate about helping people become informed, empowered and enthusiastic donors. After more than 10 years in the nonprofit/charity sector, I embraced my fear of spreadsheets and got an MBA so that I could help citizens like myself become more strategic givers. Today, I use my unique experiences in both sectors to help people who care deeply about using their money to make the world a better place.