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‘The climate crisis is here’

Climate activists demand rapid system change as heatwaves, fires and floods hit home
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Sant Ponç Reservoir, Drought during 2023 Catalonia, Spain

The deadly extreme weather devastating communities, infrastructure, businesses and ecosystems across the globe has sparked renewed demands from climate activists for a rapid transition to renewable energy for all.

The climate crisis is here: headlines from across Europe, North America, Asia, the Pacific and Africa paint a disturbing picture that demonstrates the urgent need for a collective, urgent implementation of climate solutions.

A call for ‘braver politics’

Despite climate impacts demonstrating the clear need for rapid change, in recent weeks the EU fell short of delivering an adequate renewables target while bilateral climate talks between China and the USA failed to bridge their divide with ‘substantial differences’ remaining.

Climate activists are demanding braver politics and stronger policies to deliver a transition to energy and economic systems that ensures that polluters pay their fair share to deliver distributed renewable energies that allow communities to thrive. 

‘This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extreme and unpredictable weather events, which are happening because of the climate crisis. The connection is clearer than ever between fossil fuel companies, their obscene profits, government inaction, and the drastic impact being felt by millions.

‘These events are no longer random occurrences: this is the new normal that we can expect without decisive action to implement the solutions we have on hand. We need to future-proof our world, call on our leaders to hold polluting industries accountable, and implement policies that safeguard the lives and livelihoods of everyday people.’

MAY BOEVE
Executive director at 350.org

A global renewable energy target

In order to start reducing the human costs of the climate crisis that hundreds of millions of people are experiencing (and to abide by the Paris Agreement), governments must ensure 1.5TW of renewable energy installations annually from 2030 onwards.

Activists are calling for a global renewable energy target to be formally adopted in December at this year’s climate negotiations hosted by UAE (COP28).

But more critically, they are demanding that governments regularly tax the soaring profits that oil corporations are making for their shareholders from burning fossil fuels.

The demand is for this finance to be used to rapidly accelerate the transition to renewable energy that benefits all, especially those most vulnerable to impacts and those that have least responsibility for global heating.

‘According to new research released by Oxford University, a number of countries in Central and West Africa will face the highest surge in heat exposure if the 1.5-degree Celsius limit of global heating is surpassed.

‘This, coupled with the extreme impacts such as prolonged drought, severe flooding, and cyclones witnessed across the continent in recent times, demonstrate the continent’s extreme vulnerability to the climate crisis.

‘The solutions to this crisis and other intertwined energy, health and development challenges the continent is facing lie in the deployment of decentralised, affordable and people-centered renewable energy systems instead of counting on outmoded dirty fossil fuels.

‘Africa must leverage the continent’s wealth of renewable energy potential to foster a pathway to a liveable future built on safe and sustainable energy systems.’

LANDRY NINTERETSE
Africa Regional Director at 350.org

Extreme weather around the world

Deadly flooding has killed 40 people in South Korea and one in Japan, while in India a super-charged monsoon season has already killed 117 people through ‘rain related incidents’. 

China has been suffering for weeks with temperatures exceeding 40C, causing power outages as grids struggle to cope.

In Japan heat stroke alerts have been issued in Tokyo and across 16 other prefectures as temperatures soar.

‘The extreme weather we are seeing across the world underscores how climate impacts are inextricably linked to prevailing, systemic inequities across societies everywhere around the globe.

‘From monsoons in India that have already caused over 100 deaths, flooding in South Korea and Japan, to unprecedented heatwaves in Europe and fires in North America – the glaring discrepancy between those whose lives and livelihoods are pushed to the brink by climate change, and those who are able to weather impacts comfortably, grows ever more stark.

‘We already have the solutions to bring about a more equitable, safe, and secure world. What we need at this critical juncture is for global leaders to step up, and take the decisive action urgently needed to implement them.’

NAMRATA CHOWDHARY
Head of Public Engagement at 350.org

A heatwave in Europe is peaking with record minimum temperatures that are just as dangerous; Italy faces record temperatures of 48+ degrees while wildfires rage in Greece, Switzerland, Turkey and the Canary Islands. 

Villages in Switzerland and coastal towns, including kids’ summer camps in Greece, have been evacuated. Thousands of firefighters have been engaged across Europe.

In Italy, hospital emergency departments and calls to emergency numbers have seen an uptick in use of around 20%, according to local media.

‘Last year 18,000 people in Italy died in the Europe-wide heatwave. This year the climate crisis is striking once again with record-breaking temperatures putting lives – especially those of the most vulnerable – at risk, and putting significant pressure on our ecosystems and infrastructure which our existence relies on.

‘My native country is suffering, and I am appalled by the government’s response to this crisis, which will do nothing but dig us deeper in the hole we’re trying to get out of. But I also take heart that momentum is growing, around the world, to accelerate the just transition to renewable energy for all.

‘We demand economic and energy system change, so that governments ensure polluters pay for decentralised, renewable energy access that allows our communities to thrive.’

NICOLÒ WOJEWODA
Europe Regional Director at 350.org

Huge swathes of Canada are suffering with deadly wildfires fires due to high temperatures and dry conditions.

More than 100 million Americans are under extreme heat warnings. The ‘heat dome’ over Death Valley caused temperatures to rise above 56C – close to the hottest ever recorded on Earth. 

From California to Pennsylvania communities are being displaced and devastated from both wildfires and flooding.

Vermont has declared a state of emergency, while the US National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for parts of the midwest and a severe thunderstorm watch for other states.

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