Many of us feel paralysed in the face of the climate crisis, and the lack of political leadership. But now is the time that we need to step up - and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Many amazing groups and organisations are tackling the climate and nature crises in an array of creative ways. They are evidence that you are not alone - lots of people care profoundly about the world and each other, and are taking action already. Now’s the time to join them - #VolunteerForClimate.
Inaction is no longer an option
It is getting increasingly hard to ignore climate and nature crises: the news is full of wildfires, floods and droughts across Europe. But most people I talk to seem stuck as to what they can do about it. The challenges seem too big to address, the options too inconsequential or too alien. Neither litter picking nor direct action appeal. And yet, how can we sit by passively as our society continues on a disastrous trajectory? How long can we avert our gaze as the crises come closer and closer? There is still time, just, to make choices that avoid the worst impacts and bring about a kinder, fairer society, but that time is fast running out. We need to seize this moment and throw our support behind solutions that limit the scale of the crises, and have equity at their heart.
There is hope in collective action
One of the joys of working at Reach is seeing evidence on a daily basis of people’s generosity and resourcefulness. Thousands of people are already taking collective action on climate in so many ways: developing apps to stir people into action like Earth Hero; campaigning to protect those most vulnerable to heat like Shade the UK; running educational programmes in schools like Climate Ed. Impressively, these groups are all run by volunteers. Alongside this activity are many larger, inspiring charities like Global Action Plan and Possible.
These groups and organisations offer a real ray of hope. They also provide a great opportunity for people like you and me to take action. We can contribute our skills and experience: we can be useful. It is a good way to relieve climate anxiety, to feel part of a wider community making a difference, to keep learning, and to gain a sense of agency.
For me, this means joining the board of The Movements Trust, which supports social movements working towards sustainable development. I see the climate crisis not as an issue - but as an era, for which we need to make radical changes. This kind of transformation needs leadership from different communities, many of which are excluded from the status quo. The Movements Trust aims to change this. It feels good to be doing something constructive, in the company of others who share my perspective. Ian, a fellow trustee and CEO of The Shannon Trust (a charity which supports people in prison to read) says that he was motivated to the join the board because he wanted to do something more far reaching than reducing his own carbon footprint. He found engaging fully with climate science was anxiety provoking but “collaborating with others on environmental and social change has given me hope and practical ways to contribute positively”. The Chair, Tarek, Head of ESG at an investment bank, says: “Volunteering at The Movements Trust has genuinely been one of the pleasures of my adult life, from the skills I have learnt to the positive societal impact we aspire to make”.
There is hope in other people
Despairing of progress, people often fall back on the fatalistic view that we are doomed because people are inherently selfish. This belief is both pervasive and objectively untrue. The evidence is that most people actually care deeply about each other and the world. The problem is not human nature itself but our mistaken belief about humanity. It stalls us from talking about things that are important to us, and from taking action. We challenged this misperception through our campaign #ChangeTheStory in January.
Last year, researchers found that Americans wildly underestimate support for climate-positive policies. Supporters of climate policies outnumber opponents two to one, but Americans believe the opposite is true. This misperception was held by Republicans and Democrats alike and across all demographics. It is this lack of faith in each other that allows politicians to get away with inaction.
There is broad-based support for climate action across the political spectrum in the UK. The most recent ONS research found that three in four adults are worried (somewhat or very) about climate change and it is their second biggest concern (behind cost of living). Defra recently commissioned public dialogue on adaptation to climate change within England and found that, once people had digested the information, they ‘are shocked by the range, immediacy and seriousness of climate change risks… Participants felt that government should have done more sooner, and the time to act is now”.
How to take action
As part of our #VolunteerForClimate campaign, we turning the spotlight on the incredible range of climate and environmental organisations looking for volunteers with skills. Search our roles for one that matches your skills, interests and availability. Charities and groups need people with a wide range of skills such as finance, fundraising, writing, research, educators, web developers and social media managers. Roles can be short term, or long term, virtual or in person, local or global. At the time of writing, there are over 100 opportunities to get involved. Take a look.
Please share our #VolunteerForClimate campaign widely. And if you see a volunteer role which would suit someone you know, please share it with them. We want to encourage more people to get involved. We need more people to understand what is at stake, more shoulders to the wheel, and more folk experiencing the power of collective action. We hope that when people see how many groups are taking action, they will be inspired to join them.