We know what’s wrong. We can feel it. The rising heat. The air quality. The suppression of protest. The rising food and energy prices. The floods and storms. The continuation of consumerism with fast fashion, pollution, cars and waste still filling our streets and our social media.
What can we do? In our organisations and groups, we can declare emergency, expand the imagination and take action for planetary citizenship
This below is a range of actions that community groups or organisations can begin to pursue, or to promote as part of a serious effort to respond to the Earth crisis. Many of us have more influence than we think and we can act beyond our own domestic footprint. What about changes you can make in your workplace, community groups or professional associations?
There are five areas of action:
- Declare emergency
- Use the power of creativity and culture
- Tackle climate breakdown
- Seek justice and reparations
- Restore and regenerate biodiversity.
It is not a manifesto. It is more of an offering, with pathways appropriate to your group’s situation and values. Those with the most power and resources should aim to be as ambitious as possible, given the imminent and existential threat to thriving life on this planet.
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First steps: Declare a planetary emergency
Describe the climate and ecological crisis as it affects you and your communities.
Make plans for action that stop harm, change systems and help anyone suffering
Join or form movements, or local hubs, of declarers so that you can collaborate with others. See Culture Declares Emergency as a first resource, and some of the other declarer movements you might join.
Declaring includes preparation…
- Put in place emergency response plans for your own organisation, to the impacts of ecological and climate breakdown, which might include energy and food shortages, natural disasters and pollution incidents.
- Look outwards to help others: how can your organisation or practice be a resource for people, bioregions and biosphere in a state of emergency?
- And, what might you and others need to do to recover from impacts over time?
Use the power of creativity and culture for change
If your organisation is not in the Art & Culture sector, you can still harness the power of creativity to disrupt, imagine, design and rehearse new realities. You might explore past and indigenous cultures, or support people to play and improvise. Commission and enable people to draw, film, sing, write, dance, act, sculpt, mend, construct and much more.
Arts and Culture are undervalued and underfunded, even though it improves lives and makes communication more effective. Value and promote Culture for its essential roles in response to emergency.
If you are in the Arts & Culture sector, rethink your mission and your audiences; we are all inhabitants of ecosystems who can be empowered to be active citizens for planetary restoration.
See the Culture Takes Action framework for eight different pathways you can follow and promote.
Tackle climate breakdown
Drop financial ties with fossil fuel companies:
- Look at your financial investments such as pensions or banking providers.
- For individuals, changing your pension to one that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels is 21 times more effective than stopping flying, going plant-based and switching energy suppliers combined.
- For large tech companies who consume vast amounts of energy, divesting from fossil fuel funds has more impact than measures to reduce emissions. Similar impacts can be achieved by organisations shifting to ethical green investments.
- Use https://fossilfreefunds.org/ as a guide.
End sponsorship or client relationships with fossil fuel and extractive companies:
- When extractive companies are able to sponsor cultural or sporting events, or commission advertising or market research, or fund educational programmes, they are obtaining a social licence to operate. Fossil fuels are reinforced as normal and essential. It is easier for these companies to get investment, subsidies and political licence to operate, as well as military protection and laws in their favour.
- Take the Oil Sponsorship Free Pledge, and join the Fossil Free Campaign
- Explore the resources on Culture Unstained
Work to keep fossil fuels in the ground:
- Fossil fuels are responsible for 86% of all CO2 emissions in the past decade.
- Support the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and support a just transition. Proliferation can be ended by stopping new exploration and extraction projects. The treaty includes measures for supporting indigenous land defenders and the transition of workers in extractive industries.
- Aim to stop using fossil fuels in your practice and reduce emissions of all Greenhouse Gases.
- Disrupt and create alternatives to advertising and consumerism. Purpose Disruptors estimated that advertising is adding 28% to the carbon footprint of every UK person.
Help degrowth of the extractive economy and growth of local economies:
- Shorten supply chains by sourcing what you need locally, and be more local in your activities (while using technology to reach further afield).
- Hold discussions and make plans to support degrowth of the global economy, limiting the ways that it outsources or makes invisible the exploitation of people, resources and ecosystems.
- Define your local community as a bioregion, rather than as an administrative district. Work in collaboration with all the inhabitants of this bioregion, human and otherwise. Try or support interventions for inhabitants to be more rugged and resilient to climate impacts, while reducing their footprint. See the People Take Action toolkit & workshop to expand people’s range of influence, and to empower them.
- Start with the food system, as this is a route to solving many problems at once: ill health, air pollution, water pollution, animal harm, soil degradation, biodiversity loss and climate emissions. Plant-based diets, limiting food waste, local food production and regenerative agriculture are areas to support and experiment with.
Seek reparations and justice
Climate justice — Loss and Damage
- Find out about Loss and Damage in the UNFCCC process. Support the agenda of the vulnerable and developing countries in this process, rather than the developed and oil-wealthy countries.
- Amplify calls for climate finance to the Global South and displaced people of at least $100 billion. See the Jubilee Movement, Make Polluters Pay and Climate Reparations.
- Emphasise reparative justice: Foreground voices and needs of Most Affected People and Areas in any events, campaigns or projects you run.
- Tackle systemic racism and inequalities in any sphere you can influence. Know your power and privilege, and include those who are most excluded in your places. Ensure that intersectionally disadvantaged people are included and fairly recompensed. See Julie’s Bicycle Climate Justice Hub.
- Work to build a fair and just society and economy within safe planetary boundaries. Resist the narrative of growth and aspire to ‘enough’, finding ways to exchange ideas and redistribute resources to those with less.
- See Degrowth.info and Doughnut Economics Action Lab.
Restore and regenerate nature
- Monitor your whole Ecological Footprint, not just your Carbon Footprint, to include impacts on biodiversity and emissions of other Greenhouse Gases.
- Can your work have a positive impact on the food system, leading by example and through education? Large-scale and animal agriculture contributes significantly to climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, soil depletion, ill health and animal harm. Do all you can to localise food production, to support plant-based diets and increase regenerative practices such as food forests.
Circular economy and ecological innovation
- Set ambitious targets to limit your use of resources, prioritising reducing before reusing and recycling. Wherever possible, source from recycled, renewable and non-polluting materials.
- Think creatively about how your waste products can be reused.
- Switch to suppliers that are ethical and local, reducing transport miles.
- Commission and support inspiring ecological innovation, for example in your retail offer or food services, or in your core products and programmes.
Advocate for the Rights of Nature
- Acknowledge and promote the idea that the human role is to steward life into flourishing, not to perpetuate our own species at the expense of others, and which causes suffering and death for many humans too.
- Support the Earth Charter, finding ways to integrate it into your mission and values.
- If in the UK, support the People’s Plan for Nature, following their call to hold public conversations.
- Support the campaign for an Ecocide Law, a fifth international crime against peace.
- See places primarily as bioregions rather than as administrative districts. A bioregional economy pays attention to local watersheds, and other ‘sheds’ relating to food, energy and soil, and how they overlap and interact. Is there an active bioregional project in your area you can join? Or if not, form one.
- Work to regenerate multi-species habitats, starting small and local, supporting others in other places with large scale challenges. If you support a tree-planting project for offset reasons, ensure that it is not mono-culture plantations but that it is rewilding the land in a biodiversity-first way.
- Support work to make cities places where people, places and nature are better connected, such as National Park City or Biophilic Cities.