Recommendations for government, industry, and individuals to accelerate action at speed and scale
This summer, many of us see the devastating floods, fires, storms, and heat waves worldwide as a sign that climate change is here and getting worse. On Monday, the scientific community validated those concerns.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – based on more than 14,000 studies, approved by 195 global governments, and the most comprehensive summary of the physical science of climate change – confirms its prior warnings and outlines the dire need for aggressive climate action now.
The report also states that it’s not too late to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis with our current knowledge and solutions if we accelerate them to scale, through actions of governments, businesses, and individuals (who are key to driving government and business action).
A few staggering findings:
It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land – in fact, human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that’s unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.
In 2019, CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere were higher than any time in at least two million years and concentrations of highly potent greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxide were higher than any time in the last 800,000 years.
Climate change is already affecting every inhabited region around the world – with every additional increment of warming, regions are projected to experience intensifying affects, including extreme heat with increasing frequency of long droughts in some regions and heavier monsoons and deadly flooding in others, in addition to rising sea levels and melting ice sheets.
The more emissions increase, the proportion of emissions that can be sequestered by land and ocean carbon sinks gets smaller.
The world has already surpassed 1 degree Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels and will exceed 2 degrees Celsius this century – unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
These numbers may sound small, but 1 degree of warming has already begun to cause devastating climate effects, and the IPCC tells us that the difference in impacts between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming is enormous. This is why efforts to prevent every increment of warming are crucial.
And we have the solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, expand carbon sequestration through agriculture and forests, and build up regenerative and just systems to replace the extractive and polluting ones that are driving this crisis.
Green America is calling on government, business, and individuals to accelerate action now to reduce climate emissions and change the way we engage in agriculture, energy, materials consumption, and finance to ensure we avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Government Action Needed on the Climate Crisis
Urgently Needed Legislation
The US Congress has failed to pass comprehensive legislation addressing the climate crisis. Now, Congress has the opportunity to pass two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate and is headed to the House, and the reconciliation package (the Senate voted to allocate $3.5 trillion and now must decide on the provisions), that would go a long way towards shifting our economy in a greener direction while also addressing longstanding environmental and social justice issues. While these two pieces of legislation are not perfect – and false solutions to the climate crisis such as industrial carbon capture and sequestration on fossil fuel facilities, should be removed – we will be far worse off if Congress fails to enact them.
We need both bills to pass because the provisions in the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill alone are not nearly enough to address the climate crisis. At the same time, there are legislators that will not enact the larger reconciliation package without the bipartisan infrastructure package in place. Both pieces of legislation are needed to start moving the country in the right direction to reduce our emissions rapidly, address environmental justice issues nationwide, and build the resiliency we need.
Green America is also encouraging Congress to incorporate our Clean Energy Victory Bonds bill into the pending infrastructure or reconciliation bills. Clean Energy Victory Bonds, which were recently re-introduced in the US House and Senate, would allow all Americans to invest in the growing clean energy economy and create jobs in the US for as little as $25.
In addition, the IPCC report finds that the threat from methane, which has 80 times the short-term global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide, is growing enormously, and Green America works closely with allies to urge regulatory action on methane leaks and oppose the build out of new natural gas infrastructure.
Protect Worker and Human Rights
The government must, simultaneously with climate action, strengthen workers' rights and address the human rights and environmental abuses in US business operations and supply chains. The government should aim to create a legal environment in which both economic and social freedoms are respected, prioritizing protecting the rights of people over profits. We must create holistic solutions to the climate crisis that account for both the human and environmental harm caused by the way society operates.
Business Needs to Act on the Climate Crisis
Along with governmental action, we still need businesses, large and small, across the US to move even faster on the climate crisis than laws and regulations require. Businesses are a major driver of the climate crisis and can be a major part of the solution.
But many of the climate announcements from large corporations are largely greenwashing, so we need to ensure that companies are really reducing their emissions rapidly, while supporting a just transition to renewable energy and other climate solutions that ends legacy pollution in impacted communities and centers environmental justice in the solutions.
Green America is urging large companies to move faster on energy, emissions, agriculture, and finance, four areas of the economy that are major drivers of the climate crisis.
Corporations need to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025 and use their influence to push for a just transition for communities and workers.
Corporations must phase out all high global warming potential emissions by 2030.
Our Cool It campaign is pressuring the largest supermarkets in the country to end their use of super-polluting refrigerants that have thousands of times the global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide. Supermarkets currently leak 45 million metric tons of super-polluting gases each year (equal to the emissions of 9.5 million cars), and ultra-low GWP solutions exist.
Agriculture companies need to shift their supply chains to regenerative agriculture by 2030.
Our Soil & Climate Alliance works with farmers and food companies to shift agriculture to regenerative practices that will help to reverse the climate crisis by drawing down and sequestering carbon in the soil, expanding the capacity for our land to be a carbon sink. As we achieve a fossil free economy, soil carbon sequestration could actually reverse the climate crisis, while improving soil health, water availability, biodiversity, climate resilience for global food security and farm and rural community economics.
Financial Institutions need to end their investment in fossil fuels in the next decade.
Our Climate Safe Lending Network is working with banks and regulators worldwide to shift lending and investing away from fossil fuels to climate solutions. Our finance campaigns are putting pressure on JP Morgan Chase and Liberty Mutual to end their financing of fossil fuels and mobilizing shareholders to support climate resolutions at the largest companies in the US.
Small green businesses are the leaders in creating environmental and social change.
Green America supports the greenest small businesses across the country, which lead the way on climate and environmental solutions, in our Green Business Network.
How You Can Take Action for the Climate
People are taking action in their homes, communities, and nationally to create solutions to the climate crisis. While each person acting alone can only make a small difference, when individuals band together, they are major drivers of environmental solutions.
Get started on climate action with Green America’s 10 Ways You Can Fight Climate Change.
Call Congress through the US Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121, and tell your legislators that you support bold legislation to address the climate crisis. Urge passage of both the infrastructure bill in the US House and reconciliation package in both Houses of Congress, including improved access to mass transit and improving electric vehicle infrastructure; reaching 100 percent clean energy; ending fossil fuel subsidies; electrification of housing, schools, and hospitals; clean and safe drinking water for all; and Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
Support the campaigns of national groups like Green America, and get active with local environmental and climate justice organizations near you to reduce climate emissions and the impacts of pollutants on frontline communities.
Reach out to companies you shop or receive services from to tell them they need to act fast to eliminate their emissions. When companies hear directly from consumers, it makes a big difference.
Take part in regenerative agriculture in your home or community by planting a Climate Victory Garden. Climate Victory Gardeners are sequestering carbon, creating healthy foods, and building more resilient communities nationwide.
Green your spending and investing. Green America’s National Green Pages is a great resource for finding the greenest businesses, and we have a wealth of information about how to divest from fossil fuels and move your money from banks that finance the climate crisis to banks and credit unions that support local communities.
Share information with friends, family, and social media communities about the need to take action on climate change, the solutions that we should all be supporting, and to counter the disinformation that is out there.
If we all work together immediately, at the governmental, business, and individual levels, we have the resources we need to address the climate crisis and limit its impacts for our and future generations.