Mother’s Day 2022: I have been a mother for over 24 years; first to my son and then to my daughter. I have been a full time climate educator, policy analyst and activist for 15 of those 24 years. Understanding the connections between our climate crisis, climate and environmental justice, equality and equity, public education, universal health care, access to healthy food & clean water, voting rights, marriage, racial and gender equality has been a learning process; it has taken time for me to absorb and connect the dots. I fully understand that awakening to these important rights and recognizing their interconnections isn’t always obvious; it requires contemplation, education, and discussion. Our motto at ClimateMama is: “tell the truth, actions speak louder than words, don’t be afraid.” I try each day to live by this motto. I believe my children understand and see this and that growing up and now, they know I am doing the best I can.

The truth is, in 2022 we in the USA and in many other places around the world, are facing a democracy crisis and a climate emergency; these two crises are tightly interconnected. There can be no climate justice without reproductive freedom. Clear and identifiable forces are at work trying to disrupt our freedoms, including our right to privacy and to decide what happens to our own bodies, as well as to keep us addicted to fossil fuels. In many cases, these forces are one and the same. As a mother, I see both my children’s future and now threatened by these entwined emergencies and by those who seek to push forward their own agendas and short term profits.  Instead we should be coming together, recognizing the huge and ever-present threats we will face for the rest of our lives from our climate emergency. These require that we stand strong for those long term protections that will help insure our health and safety, that which we can have control over, as we prepare to face Mother Nature’s wrath head on. I see and feel the transition we are in – the turning point we are at; we are gaining ground on achieving these protections,  and the forces that don’t want us to succeed know it and are pulling out all the stops to halt our progress.

For those of us in the United States, CONNECT THE DOTS. The attempt by the Supreme Court, to control our bodies and the bodies of our daughters, sisters, friends and aunts, is a threat to us all. We have had federal protection and recognition of this right for 50 years, ceding control to the states is a step backwards, inequitable, and unfair. Just as we need to have federal protection of the air we breath and the water we drink. These rights too remain unclear and need to be strengthened. In an upcoming decision these rights are in jeopardy and under threat, at the whim of a politicized and partisan Supreme Court. Follow the EPA vs West Virginia case, the decision of which is eminent as the court rules on the right to regulate greenhouse gases, states vs the federal government. The body of our Mother Earth is  overtly being threatened, she needs our protection too.

How we vote matters, and we are seeing this now. What we do now matters. Showing our children, that standing up for justice, equity, choice, privacy and fairness  is a worthy discussion. Today, on Mother’s Day and every day – as a Mother’s Day present to you, your mother, or other mothers in your life – have this discussion with the kids in your life, listen, hear and discuss their opinions. Discuss the interconnectedness, the inequity in these potential decisions being made at the federal level, and remind them of the importance of protecting all mothers, including our mother earth.

For those of you outside of the USA, looking in, understand that our country is at a turning point, and change comes with struggles. The USA has many problems and yet provides many opportunities, freedoms and choices. I firmly believe we will find our way through this current challenge, in a way that ultimately protects all of us;  building active hope for a stronger, safer, and healthier future. But getting there will be messy, challenging and at times disappointing, frustrating, sad, and ugly. Democracy is worth fighting for, and we are in a great battle. Know that there are so many fighting every day. Battles are won and lost, but we are not backing down. Equality, justice and a safe and healthy climate are the ultimate prizes, and everyone deserves to have these.

With love and in reflection,

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

 

Supreme Court Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Posted in Climate Mamas & Papas, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In mid-March I had the honor and the pleasure of interviewing director, writer, filmmaker, and climate mama extraordinaire Rachel Lears. I was introduced to Rachel by New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) which joined forces with the National Democratic Institute during Women’s History Month, to co-present a panel  “Representation Matters for Climate Justice.” The Panel was part of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women – you can watch the panel discussion, in its entirety, here.

Rachel and I  had a wonderful and wide ranging conversation about motherhood, careers, climate justice and climate hope as well as about Rachel’s new documentary film, To the End.  Rachel and Robin Blotnick are the creators of Jubilee Films –  the Brooklyn, New York based documentary production company whose mission is “to tell smart, nuanced, entertaining stories that transcend borders, engage audiences from all walks of life, and challenge popular assumptions.” Their projects have received support from major film funders like the Sundance Institute and IDA, and have won awards at festivals around the world. Their last release before To The End was the award winning, Knock Down The House which followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush.

In both Knock Down the House (2020) and To the End (2022) Rachel showcases multiracial coalitions of women who are on the cutting edge of new ideas, new ways of thinking and who are leading and creating new paths and important successes for growth and opportunity that can guide us as individuals and as a nation. Rachel and I chatted for over an hour about the power of film, women in film on both sides of the camera and how film and storytelling can help share the reality of the climate crisis as well as build climate hope. We also delved into how being a mama has impacted Rachel’s career, her story telling and her thoughts about the climate emergency. Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.  I came away from our talk inspired, hopeful and reminded that to create change and hope we need to vividly imagine the future we want, even if the journey to get there is long and hard. Good documentary films like Rachel’s make imagining that future a little bit easier. Rachels work manifests this future by sharing stories of women who embody hope and tenacity – building self-efficacy that inspires the same in each of us.  In a world that often feels upside down and one where our future all too often seems impossible, Rachel helps us see that the impossible is indeed possible.

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

————–

Earth Day Interview with Rachel Lears

Did you tell stories and/or make movies as a young girl? Is this something you always wanted to do? How did you come to be in this world of storytelling?  

I feel like I started late on my storytelling journey, I was well into my mid 20s. In college I did a little bit of everything majoring in music, studying photography, science and humanities, ultimately ending up in the anthropology department at NYU, where I studied film. This non-traditional path into film making allowed me to connect anthropology,  culture and media.  Documentary film is a powerful art form that has allowed me to combine all parts of my background in ways that let me engage the world through my films which showcase the lives of the real people.

 Has being a mama influenced your focus or your work?  If so how and has this changed along the journey.

I always thought I wanted to have kids, but it took a while for me to feel economically stable enough to begin to consider this possibility. When I felt ready, having a child proved to be a difficult process for me. I had 3 miscarriages before having my son at the age of 38. I was already a film maker,  having completed a few successful projects already. I had established a production company with my husband – he is my film making partner as well as my life partner. By the time our son came into our lives, having each other to supported one another in those early days of parenthood and through a hectic time in our careers was critical to our success, both personally and professionally.  The idea for Knock Down the House came alongside and because of the 2016 presidential elections.  I felt this strong need to do something, to get involved in campaigns and to channel my activism in a positive way. I didn’t have the luxury of cynicism; my son was just 8 months old and I knew his future had to be filled with possibilities.  In fact he helped us make the journey of making Knock Down the House possible. He took 4-hour naps which allowed my husband to edit during our son’s naps. We have shared parenting responsibilities since these early days and have been successful co-parents. When I had Max, I was afraid that it would be difficult for my career, but in fact having a child has renewed my commitment to believe in the possibility of a better world. I think that when we look at the the future through the eyes of a parent of a young child, we have to take a hopeful approach to the possibilities, even with something as overwhelming as the climate crisis. The 2018 United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C was what led me to create To The End. To me, that report presented a question of political will and political courage. Did these exist? The question of political courage led me to think deeply about  the movement for major climate policy change in the US and how it would need to grow and expand from many varied directions. To The End ended up being a film about the Green New Deal and those who created it, as well as to the present moment,  in 2022 how its  success is intertwined with the Build Back Better bill.  The film highlights 4  incredible women who fighting to make innovative climate policy a reality.

It seems that your recent works have focused on documenting the work, the story, and the lives of amazing young women – so through a gender lens – women who are working to change the system, to highlight injustices and focus on the need for justice, as central to creating a more hopeful tomorrow and today. So much of our history has been written by men. What has drawn you to tell these stories and why do you feel they are so important to tell?

It’s no coincidence that many of the most compelling leaders in the climate justice
movement are young BIPOC women. Because across the world, young people, women, and people of color are often the most affected by the climate crisis. But these are not necessarily the voices and the leaders that are usually highlighted as leaders in media narratives. So as a filmmaker, my interest in representation kind of comes in two parts.  On the one hand,  it’s really important that people who don’t usually see themselves represented in the media can do so. This is important to me as a woman who grew up frequently identifying with male role models because there were so few female characters at the time. On the other hand,  I think there is a powerful cultural shift that can happen with storytelling narratives, with film, where the tables can turn. And everyone, including viewers from dominant groups can identify through the empathy that film creates with protagonists from underrepresented or marginalized groups. So I think that’s a really powerful cultural shift underway. In my film, To the End, we are presenting young women of color as leaders representing everyone, the broader multiracial multi-gender, cross class, intergenerational movement that we are going to need to stop the climate crisis. This won’t be easy.  Different than Knock Down the House, the ending of To The End shows us solutions aren’t inevitable even if they should be. We need to have a long view, as there are so many competing and complicated issues that too often sideline climate policy, even as the urgency of the crisis increases.  I like to look to the past and how movements have shaped political consciousness across the horizon of history. This shows us there are so many ways to be involved and I felt I could show this in the film through the actions of an individual character – a member of congress, a leader of an activist organization, a policy writer, and a media commentator.  By telling those stories, I think it gives the viewer an inside look at what it means to be in this fight for the long hall.  At the same time  it opens up so many ways to be part of the movement now, to be part of the change that is here,  and part of the change that is to come, even if, as one is moving through these various moments,  success still seems far away or at time impossible.

To the End has two scenes near the end of the film that to me distill the essence of why we keep fighting. In one scene, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is hiking in the New York wilderness, discussing what could be a tipping point; offering a spectrum of possibilities of how we can steer the ship to overt the worst, even when it’s not clear we will get to where we need to be, to be successful. The second scene is of Rhiana Gunn-Wright and her newborn baby. Rhiana shares an incredibly profound and personal message of the legacy of her own family and how her ancestors always had children in adverse circumstances. She helps by putting her own pregnancy into perspective as she shares that bringing a child into the world now, knowing where the world is headed because of climate change, is a leap of faith. Even in best case scenario the future is extremely complicated. We are therefore reminded that having child is truly an act of hope.  It is not a naïve decision but rather a sense that these are the kinds of decisions we must make; multigenerational struggles with historical legacies show us that while the future may look bleak, through a baby, new hope is born. This is the core essence of the film, the story that I want to put out there.  I hope young people who are considering not having children will also see Rhiana’s perspective, that humans have been living with catastrophe, with worlds ending, with apocalypse, at every point of human history.  This to me, is the point of what it means to keep going to the end, it is how we can draw strength – knowing that people have been living through hard and impossible things and getting through them and experiencing joy even during these hard and seemingly impossible times; this is why we can’t give up.

Where did the title of film come from?

The title has several meanings. To the End evokes the fear that climate apocalypse represents the end of the world, and it also suggests the idea of fighting to the end, whenever that will be. In fact, the fight to stop the climate crisis and build a just and sustainable world is a very long term fight. We need to understand and visualize the long perspective while at the same time we need to build a movement that still mobilizes for this moment.  We do this while recognizing that there will be a crucial moment to mobilize for next year, and the next year, and the year after that. The title of the film and stylistic approach of film is to play to this; juxtaposing  a dystopian science fiction feel that looks at disasters in a way that reflects the world the activists live in. At the same time, the film is building the vision and showing the activists stamina for the fight they know they are in; one in which they are fighting to build a world that will be a better and more hopeful one.  The film helps show us that we are at this juncture and this time is the “in between.” I see the film building active hope, hope as a discipline and where faith is a theme throughout the film. This must stay with us even in dark times. I hope the  film can also be useful for anyone struggling,  that it provides an opportunity to emotionally process this historical moment we are in, through the long lens of history.

You can learn more about To The End, where to see it and how to host a screening,  here. 

————————

No Nature No Future Photo by Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Baby Picture, Unsplash

Posted in Art, Fashion, Entertainment, Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who will be the next Malala? Empowered and emboldened  – using her voice and actions to right wrongs and lead the world forward in a just way;  at the same time, inspiring others to lead as well.  Who won’t have this opportunity because she wasn’t able to go to school because she didn’t have access to light on long winter nights,  or to warmth on cold winter days, or to cooling on blazing hot summer days? Energy access, something we in the global north take for granted, is still not a given in many countries around the world. I am honored that, through Solar for Her, ClimateMama has had the opportunity to help provide this access to a girls school in Askole, a small town at the top of the world. Special thanks to Asif Iqbal, a dear Climate Reality colleague, for introducing me to Solar for Her. Read on to find out more and also how YOU can help too!

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

Empowering Girls Fight Climate Change at K2 Base Camp! 

(Shared with permission. First published on SolarForHer 3/9/2022)

Askole is the last human settlement before the track up to the four, out of fourteen, highest peaks on Earth, including the world’ second highest peak K2 in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Imagine, how extreme the weather would be during winter for little girls to study.

Solar For Her has just shifted a Grade 8 girls school in this community on solar energy! Thanks to the generous support of Climate Reality Leader Harriet Shugarman and her organization Climate Mama enabling Solar For Her empower 154 girls continue education with pride and dignity here in a community, living on top of the world.

The 1kW off grid solar PV system will run lights in this 8-room school building, a computer and a small LED screen to help girls enjoy studies and make a difference in life! In extreme cold weather, girls will study in well covered classrooms under bright light!

Solar For Her is a national campaign dedicated to shifts girls schools in Pakistan on solar energy and empower girls fight climate change. In first phase, the campaign aims to reach 30 girls schools across Pakistan. The good news is, it has already shifted 15 schools on solar. In future, the campaign would aim to establish at least one solar powered schools for girls in each district of Pakistan.

Be part of this amazing cause. Spread the word and help us raise funds to achieve our milestones.

To donate, visit the Solar for Her website

You can also donate via GoFundMe

All Photos used with permission: SolarForHer

For more on Solar For Her, it’s history and it’s work, enjoy this short video!

 

Posted in building materials, Climate Mama News, Renewable Energy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our ClimateMama Mantra: 

  • Tell the Truth
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words
  • Don’t be Afraid

For many of us, these are lessons our parents taught us and that we are now teaching our children. When it comes to the climate emergency, how we apply this mantra is clear. We must follow it where it leads.

First, we must speak the truth.

This will be hard, and how we explain what’s happening will vary depending on the age of our children. The truth, as it relates to the climate crisis can be boiled down into 5 points:

  1. It’s real,
  2. it’s bad,
  3. it’s happening in large part because of our actions,
  4. it’s getting worse, and
  5. there ARE many things we can do to slow it down.

So, to the last point, there are an infinite number of things we can do and so much we must do to give our children a chance at a livable future and now. Scientists tell us we need systemic change and we need it quickly. For this we must demand that those who can take giant leaps do so, now. For the rest of us, we can and we must continue to move forward – whether one step or a giant leap at a time. Who you influence, who watches and then acts because of what you said or did – you may never know. But the impacts from your actions may well be what changes the world.

The latest working group report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment Report (6th report since the establishment of the IPCC in 1988) released on February 28th, 2022, is yet another stark warning from world scientists that we are running out of time, that the door we are holding open is spring loaded and will slam fast behind us if we don’t take direct measures to block it.

The IPCC Working Group report  states unequivocally that:

The costs of climate change are already enormous and will accelerate. Unless emissions are cut faster than governments plan to, damages will worsen rapidly and parts of the planet will become increasingly uninhabitable.

Climate change is already killing people, destroying nature and making the world poorer. The costs have worsened over recent years.

Actions speak louder than words.

We can limit and slow down temperature rise but the only way to do this is to cut greenhouse gas emissions, this means stopping the use of fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas. We can do this.

“Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frogmarch to destruction,” United Nations Secretary General Guterres said in a video address. “The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal.”

Don’t be afraid (easier said than done).

We must acknowledge our grief, our angst and our fears, and move beyond them, our children are watching, their future and now is in our hands.

 

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

 

Truth photo:  by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Frog photo:  by David Clode on Unsplash

Parent photo: Our Kids Climate/Parents for Future Global at COP26

Posted in Climate Mama News, Disasters, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

New Habits for our Unwritten Future:

By Jill MacIntyre Witt

After nearly 2 years of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and years of inaction to tackle the climate crisis during the last presidency, it’s certainly a good time to take a closer look at our daily habits.

This 2022 Habits Hotsheet is a great place to start.

We all know deep down inside that we can’t return to the way it was. What people refer to as getting back to ‘normal’ is simply not sustainable. In the first half of 2020, carbon emissions fell during the global shutdown. It was exciting to see a glimpse of planetary reprieve and recovery. But that was not what fossil fuel companies wanted. Check out this latest report on the Koch Industries push for herd immunity, in order for corporations to continue as business as usual, at the expense of human lives. And for our species directly, after so much death and illness these past few years, we can begin to see the clear impacts. Reality is setting in…the virus will continue to remain elusive as we navigate our unknown future together. What we do know is that this will continue to raise our stress levels. It’s not going away. And what we also know is that the planet will continue to heat up and climate impacts will continue to get worse. It is up to each and every one of us to grab ahold of what we can to take meaningful climate action as we also take care of ourselves.

Climate anxiety is on the rise. We can get a grip. Let’s start with caring for our personal health and wellness and establish new habits in these new times. Habits for wellness will help sustain us while we take on bolder actions to address the climate crisis. Both wellness and climate action go hand in hand. Our future is for us to write, to navigate – and not just to live through – but also to thrive in. We must take care of our health, while we work towards creating a better world for our children and their children and their children’s children. Our wellness depends on the wellness of each other, not just our neighbors and friends but also those that are affected the most by climate change.

Our moral awakening must include facing the reality that:  how we live grossly impacts those that have done the least to cause the problems we face. We must not turn our backs on the youth of today – their call to act on climate couldn’t be more clear. We can slow climate impacts by reducing our own personal carbon impact and by demanding change from our governments as well as corporations. No more business as usual we can incorporate into our habits. We got this!

To help jumpstart your new year, I’ve created a 2022 Habits Hotsheet. It’s a list of many actions for you to choose…from your health and wellness, to lowering your carbon impact. When you get the Hotsheet, you will be put on a VIP list to be the first to know when the “Climate Anxiety to Action” online course is available. You can also follow us on Instagram @climateactivismlab.

Let’s make 2022 the year where we incorporate climate wellness into our daily lives so we can thrive in the unwritten future we are part in creating. As climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe says, “When you are taking action for the climate, it’s not for climate change, it’s for you, it’s for your family, it’s for everything you love, everyone you love, every place that you love.”

Jill MacIntyre Witt (she/her)
Climate Wellness Coach, NBC-HWC (pending)
UN Top 100 Human Rights Defender – 2019
TEDx Talk: “Climate Justice Now! How?”
Author – Climate Justice Field Manual: climatejusticenow.earth
Founder – climateactivismlab.com

Photo credit of youth: Unsplash by Tom Seger

Posted in Climate Mama News, Do Something Wednesdays, Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s wave goodbye to 2021, and the many climate catastrophes from this past year that Mother Nature demanded we see, feel, hear and experience first hand. From deadly flooding in Germany, New York City and British Columbia, to fires raging across the Amazon, California, British Columbia, the Arctic, as well as Boulder, Colorado – the realities of living the climate emergency were made crystal clear to us all –  as was our staring role in pushing Mother Nature out of balance. While this reality is critical to realize and to understand, this post is NOT about the fact that the climate crisis is here, this should be a given to all.

THIS post, in the early days of 2022 is a reminder that there are so many things happening  each and every day – in cities, countries, boardrooms and kitchens – that address, come to terms with, and slow down our climate emergency. These actions, projects, programs and events build our resiliency, inside and out, as we learn the skills and find the resources to cope and adjust to the changes around us. We need to find ways to remind ourselves that we can and must have climate hope. Hope can’t manifest itself in a vacuum but it can grow from real life experiences and examples which in turn, build our self efficacy and our agency that moves us forward and wills us to act.

This post is a reminder that people around the world, from all walks and corners of life, are awake to the dangers we face and are facing them head on – more often than not doing so in community, together.

This post is to remind you, so you can remind the children in your life that – around the world –  people are rising up, as they see what is happening and are taking action where and when they can. As well, they are demanding that those who can go big, do so now.

This post is a reminder for you to rise and be part of these collective actions. Together we are strong and together we can and are making a difference.

Where to begin? Look for the successes – below is  a small handful – you will not have to look hard to find fistfuls of your own, from the world over:

  1. On our Climate Mamas and Papas front: Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future joined together this past summer to launch a global parent fellowship. There will be a new program launching in 2022 – an idea for you or someone you know? This program and the growing and loud voices of parents around the world, coming together at key moments (COP26), Mothers Day, Father Days, to raise attention to the reality of the climate emergency and the need for action.
  2. On the importance of free and fair elections: Joe Biden, the US President understands the realities of the climate crisis. Creating and advancing climate policy isn’t easy, but on  his first day in office he showed the world where his priorities for the country are, as he insured that the US rejoined the Paris Agreement. He cancelled the Keystone pipeline, once and for all, and his administration has demanded of all federal government agencies that climate action take priority.  The trillion dollar infrastructure bill passed in the fall, with a razor sharp focus on climate resiliency. How we vote MATTERS, protecting our right to VOTE and the democratic process is critical.
  3. On sharing positive news: The role of indigenous peoples in protecting and caring for our mother earth continues to be amplified and recognized. Rolling out in the fall of 2021, New Jersey began enacting its decision to teach climate change K-12, across 7 cross curricular areas. California passes a bill that requires all businesses and residents to compost, rolling out in 2022~

There are so many, many projects and programs that took flight and grew in 2021, including and related to:  energy efficiency, renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, climate education K-12, systems thinking, divestment from polluting industries, investment in climate action plans, cradle to cradle, donut economics, recognition, reality, and ways to cope with climate/eco anxiety amongst youth and adults and so much more!! All this as the world continued to reel from the COVID crisis. We can do so much when we put our minds, our energies, our hopes, and our dreams toward creating a better future and now for us and for our children.

What are some of your key positive takeaways from 2021 as they relate to the climate emergency? Let’s acknowledge them, champion them, and move them forward into 2022. We can all be witnesses too and participants with the companies, organizations, houses of worship, elected officials, mamas and papas, youth and children, uniting to address our climate emergency, and doing so head on with eyes wide open and arms outstretched!

 

Yours in solidarity,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

 

P.S. on a personal note, in 2021 my book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, received 3 national book awards. To me, this shows that talking about the climate crisis – more and more – is taking center stage.

 

2021 Photo credit: engin akyurt on Unsplash

2022 Photo credit: Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

Parent photo from COP26, Our Kids Climate.

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Do Something Wednesdays, Holidays, In The News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Used with Permission: OKC, COP26 Glasgow

Greetings Climate Mamas and Papas,

Were you tuned in to the United Nations Glasgow Climate meeting? I am sure many of you were staying on top of COP26 which came to a close on November 13th, 2021, and that others were too busy and occupied to follow closely.  This 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), was met with cautious optimism by some, and with disappointment, sadness, and anger by others. I hope the following will provide some insight and pause for thought for those of you who are looking for more information about what took place and what didn’t.

What’s important to remember before we discuss the outcomes in more detail, is what the COP is and what it isn’t. COP is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The UNFCCC is one of the Conventions that came out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or Rio Summit for short).  The primary aim of the UNFCCC is: preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system. (Having spent 13 years working in and around the United Nations, I am pretty good with these UN acronyms!)

Depending on who you listen to, you may be thoroughly depressed by the outcomes of COP26, or perhaps, as I am, you remain cautiously optimistic.

What is important to recognize and be mindful of from the start, is that the UNFCCC and its decision-making body the COP, have no enforcement authority. Let me say that again, and in another way, there is no mechanism for the COP to bind governments to any decisions nor can it oversee enforcement. This is a general rule that applies to almost all UN bodies, they lack any enforcement mechanisms. In the 21st century, and back in the 1940s when the UN was established, the nation state was then and remains today, the supreme authority. We do not have a world government; the United Nations is not that. And yet, as someone who sees the climate crisis as THE threat to the future existence of humanity, the climate emergency would certainly be something where global decisions should be binding and enforceable, but so far that is not the case.

In regards to this COP and in fact all COPs, the meetings represent annual moments in time –  updates from governments on agreed  decisions from previous COPs, mostly related to adaptation and mitigation, and the thorny question of who will pay for these developments. The primary outcomes for COP26, where updates and commitments are stated, can be found in the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Glasgow decisions call on countries to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of 2022 to align them with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. This moves up the timetable for reporting and puts pressure on governments to show what they are doing in one year’s time. It also asks all countries that have not yet done so to submit long-term strategies to 2050, aiming for a just transition to net-zero emissions around mid-century. For the first time this final COP agreement talks directly about transitioning from fossil fuels, it includes language calling for the need to “phase down unabated coal” and “phase-out fossil fuel subsidies.”  This language is not as strong as many hoped for, nor as strong as science demands.  But words matter, and the words that call for an end to fossil fuels are finally being said out loud and written down and recorded.

The 2015 Paris COP was a particularly notable and important conference for setting up expectations on what we need to do to create a safer future and now. One of its monumental accomplishments was the decision that every country which is a member of COP (which is a lot, over 195 countries) would come to the Paris COP with their own Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) or in simple terms, their country’s Climate Plan. The agreement from Paris was such that each country agreed to continue to evolve and tighten up their own country plan and then collectively, the plans when added up would ensure that global temperatures did not reach a rise of more than 2 degrees C from preindustrial levels. The aspirational goal was that temperature rise would be no more than 1.5 degrees C. This aspirational goal, as it should have been in Paris, is now the target. When all the Paris commitments were added up, we were on track for a more than 3.6-degree rise, but since Paris and as of Glasgow, this number is now down to 2.5. Better, but still not good enough to avert climate catastrophe. But, the good news is that countries continue to tighten their “climate belt” and to work to reduce emissions and slow down the climate emergency – the trajectory is in the right direction. The set-up from Paris demands that each country show what they are doing and how they are accomplishing their goals through revisions to their NDC. The “genius” of Paris was the moral suasion and transparency that the NDC process has created. These NDCs are to be formally presented every five years to the COP, and now with an annual update (at least for next year).

Many other things were agreed to at and around COP26, including:

So, from where I sit, I see momentum and progress. Certainly, we must continue to demand that governments go farther and faster. But we also need all multinational corporations – and all big companies, organizations and non-government entities to be working at full speed to accomplish the goals of COP as well. Governments won’t be able to do this alone. And, without a world government that has “teeth” and  enforcement mechanisms, the best we can do is to shine a bright light on what each country is doing and what large organizations and companies are doing too. Civil society groups are successfully doing this each and every day and getting stronger together. We will continue to demand greater transparency, much more actions and much less talk.

Our children’s future and now depends on what happens NOW and we all can have a say and a role in moving a more positive and hopeful future forward.

Lastly but not least, I am so proud and excited about the coordinated efforts of parents globally, brought together through the Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future Global coalitions. Parent voices and demands were heard throughout the halls of the COP and delivered to the highest levels.

Climate Mamas and Papas, let’s keep going. Our voices are being heard and we can tell our children we are working hard, to create a safer, more sustainable and hopeful future for us all.

 

 

With thanks and love,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

Posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I have been working in the parent climate space for more than a decade. It has been rewarding, powerful and frustrating. I have often wondered: Are we truly being heard, are our actions being noticed, are we reaching far and wide?  How can we amplify our voices and our actions?

I wonder no longer!

In the fall of 2021, in the lead up to United Nations Climate Conference, COP26,  parents globally are rising, being seen, being heard. There is no doubt. As the days count down to the opening of the COP, parents have united under one clear and visible demand: 

NO NEW FOSSIL FUELS. PERIOD. 

The ask is clear, the demand is strong and powerful. It will take brave leaders to face fossil fuel companies head on and tell them no more – no more tax credits, no more subsidies, no more permits to drill on public lands, no more government assistance –  period.

In 2021, the message from climate scientists is also clear.

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  in its sixth assessment report, stated that: It is UNEQUIVOCAL that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and lands.

The United Nations Secretary General has called it “code red” for humanity.

Together, the global parent climate movement, led by Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future Global is taking a delegation of mamas to COP26. Together, these mamas from India, Brazil, Poland, South Africa, Nigeria, the USA and the UK, representing us all, will demand that world leaders stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure, mining, and more. NO NEW FOSSIL FUELS. PERIOD.

Azaaz has created a petition so we can take millions of voices with us, have your voice heard in Glasgow. Sign on to this petition today.

JOIN US: Sign here.

Share. Share. Share.

Thank you,

 

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As of September 2020, every Italian child, in every grade, is required to learn about climate change and sustainability. In September 2021, New Jersey became the first state in the US to require every child, k-12 to learn about climate change across 7 curricular areas. In countries, towns and districts across the US and the world, the realities of our climate emergency are beginning to be taught in formal educational settings. This is long over due and uneven in its implementation and requirements, but finally, it seems to be taking off on a wider and public scale.

Under Article 12 of the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement,  the importance of climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, was recognized, and signatories of the agreement were asked “to cooperate in taking appropriate measures.”

On September, 2021, the USA Department of Education took steps to enact the Biden Administration’s  decision to address our climate emergency across every Federal department,  Executive Order 14008  and to see the Paris commitment, under Article 12, through. The US Department of Education’s Climate Adaptation Plan, for the first time includes: “facilities and operational as well as how public-facing programs, guidance, policies, technical assistance, data collection, and civil rights action can be supportive of reducing the footprint of schools across the nation, as well as improving health, increasing climate resiliency, and improving students’ environmental literacy.”  You can review the new Climate Adaptation Plan here. 

Photo credit: Unsplash/KianaBosman

What are your children learning about the climate emergency? We need to equip our children with the knowledge, the skills, the opportunities, and the ACTIVE hope, to be part of our collective response to slow down the global climate emergency we all face. How can you help turn your child’s “angst into action?” What is your school district and your child’s school doing specifically to teach and address the realities of the climate emergency. Get involved, get engaged, get informed.  Let us know, and certainly and firstly, let your children know you are working on this for them!

Warmly,

Your Climate Mama

Posted in In The News, Schools and Colleges | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I have had the opportunity, the pleasure and the honor to meet, to befriend and to work with people from across the world; an opportunity and a  privilege that I know most people don’t have. Traveling Europe when I was 18, spending 13 years with the International Monetary Fund and working on the climate emergency for the past 15 years with colleagues and friends from across the globe, I have met people from many varied backgrounds, cultures, and countries. Some of these people came into my life for a short time and others for a lifetime. I have learned that in many ways we are all so similar and yet, in many ways so very different too. There is much that we can learn from one another as we build trust, relationships and a way forward –  together.

Over the past year, through my work with Our Kids Climate, I have had the honor of getting to know Herbert Murungi from Uganda. Herbert is an incredibly kind and caring person. He is concerned about our future and now and is doing everything he can to educate youth leaders, contemporaries,  and elders in his country and around the world to do their part too. Herberts storybook, James the Steward was one of our “Top Ten Children’s book for 2020”, and Herbert’s second children’s book Keeper of the Forest, launched in June 2021.

The story below is from Herbert, as told in his words. Herbert lives and has grown up in Uganda where cultural rules and norms, still require that a man pay a “brides price” to marry. For many of us in the West, this may seem both strange and archaic. But for Herbert and his wonderful wife to be Rose, this is their reality. Both of them are reaching out to friends, family and people they don’t know, to share their story, to call for an end of this cultural practice, and to focus attention on solutions to the climate crisis as part of their journey. Please read Herbert’s story below. If you feel inclined, please join me as well in supporting Herbert and Rose’s wedding fundraiser where they will plant 500 trees at local schools in Uganda. Herbert can be reached through RESI and is always happy  to share more about his work, both with school communities and in bringing solar cooking to villages across Uganda.

As we live this time of climate emergency. Finding people who build up and create active hope through their actions is critically important and inspiring. Herbert is one of these people.

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

500 Trees: The Story of Herbert and Rose

by Herbert Murungi

My name is Herbert Murungi, I’m an environmental scientist, social entrepreneur and a co-founder of RESI (Rural Environmental Sustainability Initiative). I write children’s storybooks about climate and environmental conservation because of the strong belief that anything nurtured at an early age gets embraced easily all through one’s life with value attachment. Our goal is to educate the youth so that they understand, prepare, adapt and fight the climate crisis. I have co-authored 2 children storybooks-James the Steward and Keeper of the Forest. I encourage you to read and get your child a copy.

My fiancée Rose is a civil engineer and takes pride in building excellent homes and schools for children. Her hobby is crocheting. In the fall of 2020, we agreed to get married in 2021.  We thought of wedding ceremonies. We talked about the glitz and glamour of African weddings. We agreed that the pomp of the events carries no significant impact on society and environment. We decided to use our wedding as an opportunity to communicate to young couples of our generation. Our message is simple, the wedding pomp lasts a day, but memories live in our hearts forever. Let us use these life occasions to impact lives around us, and do good to our Earth.

Rose and I will plant 500 trees (fruit and indigenous trees) in 10 schools with children to
commemorate our marriage journey. Each child will plant a tree and give it his/her name.
Together with the school administration we will support every child to ensure that his/her tree flourishes. Trees will be planted in October 2021 and our friend Alan, who holds Master’s degree in Forestry, is guiding us on tree selection and site assessments.

To realize our goal, we need your support towards buying, and taking care of trees in schools. You can support us by contributing $10.00 for a tree. You are encouraged to contribute by buying any number of trees.

Thank you for being part of our story!

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Do Something Wednesdays, In The News, Lifestyle & Fun, Schools and Colleges | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment