A race against time and against ourselves. Against the dangerous idea that we can’t do this, that there is no way.
Unlike most races, it won’t have one winner. In this race we all win, or we all lose. Winning it requires a radical, unprecedented level of collaboration, from all corners of our world. From our cities, businesses, regions and investors. From people everywhere.
Together we’re racing for a better world. A zero carbon and resilient world. A healthier, safer, fairer world. A world of wellbeing, abundance and joy, where the air is fresher, our jobs are well-paid and dignified, and our future is clear.
To get there we need to run fast, and get faster. We need more and more people to join the race, and right now. This is not about 2050, it’s about today.
Together, we can do this. And we’re already on our way.
As the IPCC report finds, gender is one of the key factors that compounds vulnerability to climate change impacts.By Dr Belle Workman, Dr Carla Pascoe Leahy, Professor Jacqueline Peel, Professor Kathyrn Bowen and Rebekkah Markey-Towler | March 8, 2022Late last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Working Group II released its latest report, warning of increasing extreme weather events and the need for urgent and ambitious adaptation.
During any crisis, particular social groups are more affected than others.
We saw this during the COVID pandemic, when women’s careers and pay took the greatest hit due to the increased load of unpaid domestic and caring work associated with home-schooling, closure of childcare and the need to care for elderly parents.
Equally, women experience greater disadvantage and loss during other economic, environmental and health emergencies – a situation that also holds true for climate change.
As the IPCC report finds, gender is one of the key factors that compounds vulnerability to climate change impacts.
Research also demonstrates that mothers, and potential mothers, are particularly impacted by climate change.
For some young women, environmental concerns have influenced their reproductive decisions to limit or reject having children on a warming planet, as seen in the emergence of groups like Birth Strike and Conceivable Future.
Mothers are reconsidering the best ways to raise their children for an uncertain future climate, as everyday family life is upended by disasters. These women face tough decisions about how to care emotionally and practically for their children in the face of ecological upheaval, including finding a safe place to live, ensuring adequate food and water supplies, and nurturing new resilience in their children to face a disrupted future.
By taking a holistic and integrated approach to development that actively addresses structural barriers for at-risk populations like women and girls, climate resilient development places justice and equity front and centre as key drivers of policy development.
Now more than ever, as we face accelerating climate impacts which disproportionately affect women, it is critical that gendered perspectives inform policy development across the board.
Women at the forefront of fights for climate justice
Frustrated by the failures of world leaders and fossil fuel polluters to take ambitious climate action, many are taking this challenge into their own hands. Women, young and old, have been prominent leaders in this worldwide trend.
Some of the most effective advocates for greater ambition on climate action are women. Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christina Figueres, and human rights and climate justice campaigner, Mary Robinson, are just two examples.
Women have traditionally had less representation in scientific bodies like the IPCC though numbers of women lead authors on reports have been slowly growing since the 1990s.
For the IPCC’s latest assessment – known as Assessment Report 6 (or AR6) – 33 per cent of authors are women, up from 21 per cent for AR5. Two of the authors of this article are among the female lead authors contributing to AR6.
Young women have also been prominent leaders of social movements calling for climate justice.
Greta Thunberg’s activism in Sweden inspired the global Fridays for Future and School Strikes movement. In Australia, Amelia Telford, a young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country, is the National Director of and co-founder of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led climate network.
Mothers have also been at the forefront of efforts to ensure an environmentally safe future for their children, both historically and today.
“… exposing [children] to life-threatening dangers and harming their health and development. For the indigenous petitioners, their thousand-years-old cultures are threatened by climate change.”
Claimants in climate cases often aim to achieve far more than just an outcome in a courtroom, using litigation as a key tool to raise awareness of climate impacts and to call for greater action by governments and business.
As climate cases, including those brought by women, achieve publicity and early successes in the courts, attention is turning to whether this litigation will make a difference in the fight for climate justice.
This will be assessed in the upcoming IPCC’s Working Group III assessment on mitigation, due to be released in early April. For its part, the IPCC’s Working Group II report found climate-related litigation is a key enabling condition for implementing, accelerating and sustaining adaptation in human systems and ecosystems.
While the full impact of this action remains to be seen, women are raising their voices and putting up their hands to lead in the face of a climate crisis.
It’s clear women are disproportionately suffering the impacts of climate change – that global warming is profoundly gendered in its effects.
But it’s equally clear that women are powerful voices for the kinds of far-reaching changes that are so urgently needed as we stand on the precipice of multiple possible futures for the girls and women of tomorrow.
Young people and future generations are environmental stewards of the future. The Climate Champions Team, in support of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, are committed to strengthening youth agency in climate action.
The 67th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, will take place this year from 6 – 17 March under the theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
The demands of the most impacted — particularly African, Indigenous, youth, and women voices — must be centered throughout these next two weeks at COP27 and beyond, writes Carissa Patrone Maikuri, Program Coordinator, Drawdown Lift, Project Drawdown
Aya Chebbi, Chair of Nala Feminist Collective, explains why effectively tackling the climate emergency demands greater representation, leadership and participation of women and young people in formal climate decision making processes.