What systemic issues stand in the way of protecting people and the planet?
So far this month, Project Green Challenge has asked you to interact with your friends, your family, your school, and the global online community for the sake of climate change justice and education. However, one of the most important relationships you can utilize to mitigate climate change is the relationship with your government.
One great place to start wielding your influence on your government is by lobbying your representatives to reduce carbon emissions. Every country has a significant role to play in phasing out our use of fossil fuels, but creating an international agreement that each country will actually agree to is a complicated task. International gatherings, such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference debate which country’s climate initiatives should be more or less restrictive. These debates can be tough given that countries in the global north have historically released more greenhouse gasses than any other group of nations, allowing more wealth accumulation along the way. Nations that are still developing strong national economies find it difficult to abide by carbon emission regulation while still growing their industries, opening new power plants, and urbanizing.
Two of the most celebrated policies were The Kyoto Protocol, which created the foundations for a carbon market and created a commitment toward reducing emissions, and The Paris Agreement, in which every country besides Iran, Yemen, and Libya have vowed to keep global warming below 2°C. While there is still a lot of progress to be made, it is reassuring to see that many nations are trying to put aside their differences and make vital commitments to curb the impacts of climate change on a global stage.
International agreements are an effective tool for getting nations to make public commitments to the climate crisis, however, they are ultimately unenforceable. It will take each individual country’s political will power to actualize effective climate policies. Costa Rica, for example, has taken the lead in enacting powerful change with a policy that is well on its way to committing the country to the ambitious 1.5°C goal created under the Paris Agreement. From 98% of their electricity coming from renewable sources to their National Plan for Electric Transportation, Costa Rica has proven that dramatic environmental policy is not only feasible, but can also lead to economic development. Their decarbonization plans have been found to yield $50 billion in benefits to the country, disproving the notion that environmental policies go against economic interests of developing nations.
“No nation has completed its development because no advanced nation is yet sustainable. All have a journey still to complete so that all nations have a good standard of living and a modest footprint… We must use this opportunity to create a more equal world and our motivation should not be fear, but hope.”
– Sir David Attenborough, British broadcaster and biologist
When support is garnered, our political systems hold immense power to effect meaningful change. In the US, a bill passed in the summer of 2022 allocated $370 billion worth of subsidies aimed at fostering a transition away from fossil fuels. The Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate legislation ever passed in American history, has provided the US government with a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels through subsidizing green energy on an unprecedented scale while creating an entire industry around renewable energy. The political momentum that brought this bill to fruition would not be possible without the millions of voters who put President Biden in the oval office and gave his administration a majority in the Senate.
When it comes to climate legislation and justice, we need to empower a younger and more diverse voter demographic to assert themselves at the ballot box, to elect candidates and enact policies that prioritize climate change mitigation and environmental justice. For many young citizens, voting in national elections can feel ineffective because it’s so easy to think of ourselves as nothing more than a single voice in a sea of millions. While our voices matter and our votes count in large elections, we can see political movements happening faster and at a more noticeable scale when we vote in local elections. Local elections allow us to meet with our representatives and talk about issues that impact our communities firsthand. If new policies are implemented successfully at the local level, the national government will take notice. For example, the pesticide chlorpyrifos was first banned in California in 2019, and the ban was so popular that the entire U.S. followed up with a nationwide ban in 2021.
It’s also important to use our voices whenever we can because not everyone has the opportunity to use their own. Armed with knowledge about local policies, we can confidently step forward and create impactful ripples of change on behalf of all peoples, regardless of their citizenship, race, nationality, gender, or identity. So, let’s rise up and boldly express our political concerns and aspirations. Together, we can make an extraordinary difference and show the world the true power of our collective will and determination.
We can use our political power by voting for the future we want and campaigning on issues that affect us! Our partners Acure and Citizen Climate Lobby stand behind the principle that everyone, including business, can be a vehicle for change. It’s true, companies wield a great deal of political power, so choose to support those that share your values and use their practices and platforms for good. By supporting sustainable policies, voting with your dollar, donating to causes you believe in, and using your voice, you can be the change!
Youth voters are among the least likely to turnout globally. In fact, only 51.2% of this age group voted in the US 2020 presidential election. Less than half of Japan’s youth population ages 18 to 29 voted in their 2021 House of Representatives election. France saw just 13% of the youth vote in their 2021 municipal elections. In the 2019 South African National Elections, only 18% of eligible youth aged 18 to 19 were even registered to vote. Despite the ongoing low turnout, the youth vote matters enormously because Millenials and Gen Z (roughly ages 18 to 40) account for large voting blocs across the world. Young people are most affected by changes in climate, economic and social policy, represent the most diverse age group, and have the most ability to swing election outcomes. Elections have consequences and every vote matters.
Upload your results and responses in a PDF document including a screenshot of your social post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload.
The world of politics often seems problematic and untouchable. With so many issues to focus on, complicated language, and differing party affiliations, it can be very difficult to stay informed and participate. Take a step back from reality and consider what your town, state, or country would be like if you were a politician!
Consider 4 to 5 topics you are passionate about and create your own political platform. These issues can range anywhere from environmental justice to water rights, or sustainable farming to plastics. Feel free to be creative with your presentation; an essay, video, podcast, infographic or medium of your choice.
Once you’ve finished, go on a digital search for the person that represents your beliefs. This can be an individual from any government around the world. Write another 3-4 sentences on how you agree with their views and want to show them support.
Upload a PDF document with your visual, written, or auditory piece. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Every election is critical for people and the planet. Anyone of any age can have an impact on who votes and how. Today, we want YOU to move people to the polls, so more voices will be heard.
Our generation can change the future by educating ourselves on climate legislation, supporting progressive political candidates, and getting out to vote.
Art can be an incredibly powerful tool for activism. So today, we ask you to use music or poetry to promote progressive climate policy!
Watch March March, a video by The Chicks. With what you have learned thus far in PGC, coupled with artistic inspiration from anywhere, create a song or poem that speaks to the importance of voting and government action on climate change. Choose a song that motivates you and rewrite the lyrics, compose something yourself, or write an original poem to present as spoken word. Use powerful, action-oriented words that will inspire your peers and everyone to organize, mobilize, educate, and vote!
Use your voice. Practice and then record it on video. Feel free to include musical instruments or background tracks too. Our team will select the top ten songs or spoken word poetry to receive 100 bonus points each!
Upload a PDF Document with your lyrics or poem and the link to your song or spoken word presentation (make sure it is public), as well as a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.
Each Greener Winner will receive:
Each Greenest Winner will receive: