Climate change is bad news. There’s no escaping that. But it's simply not true that it is entirely hopeless. There is still so much to save.
Taking an optimistic approach doesn’t have to be a matter of blind optimism, assuming it will be fine and sticking your head in the sand. It’s about recognising the good things amongst the bad, and celebrating them to help show a hopeful way forward.
There are many reasons we still have a fighting chance against catastrophic climate change, here are our top five:
1. The rise of renewables
Globally we are smashing predictions for renewable energy. From wind turbines on the Eiffel tower to floating solar lakes, renewable technology is getting bigger, smarter and more beautiful. Back in 2000, the best projections for wind power growth by 2015 was 30GW, but that was beaten, 14 times over (yep, 14 times over). Plus, in many places renewables are overtaking fossil fuels in energy production- in May, solar overtook coal in the UK for over a month and in India solar is the fastest growing source of electricity.
2. The people are on our side
It’s not just people who make wind turbines that love clean energy, it’s everyone. In a UK wide poll this year, 76% of people support renewable energy with only 4% of people opposed and only 1% strongly opposed with similar trends seen across the globe. In contrast, only 21% of the global average felt positive about coal and only 26% for oil. People are also, on the whole, worried about the challenges of climate change. Although global opinion varies a lot from place to place, on average 51% of people know climate change is harming people now and 54% are seriously concerned.
3. People aren’t just concerned they’re doing something
The social movement surrounding climate change is probably the fastest growing global movement in history. From street protests to home improvements, people are beginning to realise we don’t have the time to wait for politicians and industry to change. The climate revolution is evidently happening and growing.
One awesome example is Balcombe, back in 2013 this peaceful little Sussex village found itself at the centre of massive protests against fracking. The people drilling for oil eventually packed up and left, but the village wanted to do more than just say no to fossil fuels. They wanted to build the alternative. They started small, with a few solar panels on a cow shed. This summer, a whole solar farm they helped to build was plugged in – producing enough electricity for the whole of Balcombe and the village next door too!
4. Politicians are taking action too
Climate change is increasingly on the political agenda. Back in 2004, only 48 countries had renewable energy targets. By 2014 this number had risen to 148! Getting a global agreement on climate change action has been extremely difficult to achieve, with the UN convening conference after conference. But this spring 195 countries made history, signing a legally binding agreement to keep global warming below two degrees and so below catastrophic climate change. Some countries are already ahead of their promises and the Pacific islands are even considering a treaty to ban fossil fuels all together!
Finally, there IS evidence this is all actually working. In 2015 some clever chaps from Stanford University found that rapid growth in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels had stopped for the previous two years, which they mainly attributed to the falling use of coal.
This is a small win and admittedly we have a way to go - but with the accumulating arsenal of renewables, people power and political will, for the first time it really looks like action on climate change is unstoppable.
This It’s Happening blog is funded by our pals at Ben & Jerry’s
Photo: Oliver Rudkin