“Our office is closed this Friday: we support the #CLIMATESTRIKE”.
Today and 27th September, companies and individuals across the globe will strike in support of youth-lead climate strikes.
This is not business as usual. It is a demand for a radical change in how we live and do business – a fundamental shift in the entire set of political, economic, financial, social and cultural mechanisms and power structures that sit atop a fossil-fuel based economy. Life is about to change, and maybe we can still retain some agency over it.
For those of you agnostic about climate change and human activity as its main cause, the scientific evidence is overwhelming – you can refer to the 2014 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a start, and dive down rabbit holes into the abyss from there. Whilst scientific methods are not the be all and end all, when you have consensus from reliable scientists, it is prudent to act on the premise that they are mostly right. The IPCC warned “stabilizing temperature increase to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels will require an urgent and fundamental departure from business as usual.” That was five years ago.
Governments take the lead from movements and demands from their citizens, and either act in accordance with the groundswell, or attempt to quell or quash them. This is the rationale for the Climate Strikes: getting recognition of the Climate Crisis and an acknowledgement of the need for action by governments and corporations that can best effect change in the small window of opportunity left to us. Cracking the political systems and power structures is key to action.
In tandem with the strikes is a global journalism initiative, Covering Climate Now, to maximise coverage of climate in the media between 15th and 23rd September because, the organisers say, the press is finally waking up to the biggest story of our time with “the biggest effort ever undertaken to organize the world’s press around a single topic”.
The strikes of today and the journalism initiative are being held in the lead up to the United Nation’s Emergency Climate Summit in New York from 23rd September. World leaders have been called to come with concrete, realistic plans by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, who warns that “climate change poses a global risk” and we are “losing the race”. It is fitting that this special climate summit is named the Climate Action Summit. The words “do”, “tackle”, “effort” and “actions” stand-out in the agenda.
Not much appears to be happening in Macau. The best option is to take part in the Climate Strike in Hong Kong in Tamar Park from noon (the only other option for China is in Xiamen). In comparison, there are 13 to be held in The Philippines, likely because climate change is better understood by the globally aware. It is being personally felt by those closer to the land and will have a greater impact upon poorer countries.
Neither is the Greater Bay Area development plan strong on decoupling from fossil fuels. “To pursue green development and ecological conservation” is one of the GBA’s six basic principles, but if Hong Kong’s policy statement is indicative of the GBA’s intent, timelines to decreasing emissions are yet to be on the action agenda: “The Government has set out a series of environmental protection policies to mitigate environmental pollution, support environmental technology and green buildings, advocate energy saving and waste reduction as well as strengthen environmental education to build a sustainable future for Hong Kong”. Mitigate, support, advocate, strengthen, reduction – all words indicating business-as-usual. Stronger terms are required in times of crisis: ERADICATE pollution, BUILD green technology and green buildings, MANDATE energy saving and waste ELIMINATION, and ESTABLISH UNIVERSAL environmental education. If Guterres and the global youth are right, we shall be compelled to act Greater.