How to work together to solve the climate crisis
Many of us are concerned about the climate crisis and want to do something about it
Written by spunout
Last Updated: Nov-27-23
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
When facing the enormity of the climate crisis, it is understandable to feel powerless. The climate crisis is a complex issue that reflects many problems within society, such as how we live, and who has power and who doesn’t. This means there is no simple solution.
As individuals, there are many personal lifestyle changes we can make to do our part. We can cut down on how much meat and dairy we eat, take public transport and reduce household waste. However, we may still feel like we are not doing enough. Finding a community of like-minded people who you can take action with can bring about positive change, both for you and the planet.
In this article:
What is collective action?
Collective action is any action taken together by a group of people who share a common goal. The goal is usually to address a social, political or environmental problem. The problems they wish to address may be local – such as vandalism of a nearby park – or widespread – such as domestic violence. Collective action can take many forms, from peaceful protests to awareness-raising campaigns, strikes, signing petitions and contacting politicians.
The group of people taking collective action can be small or large. Anyone can take collective action for something they care about, no matter who they are, where they come from or what the problem is.
Collective actions are often taken by groups of ‘ordinary’ people who do not hold positions of power. However, they share a sense of justice and knowledge about the problem. These groups are sometimes called grassroots movements. Examples of grassroots movements include the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s and the #MeToo movement in 2017.
Why do people take collective action?
People take collective action to bring attention to inequality that goes overlooked by society or the government. Collective action has fought for equal rights such as the women’s vote, civil rights and human rights.
Collective action is also taken to raise social awareness. It has started conversations around issues such as gender inequality and racism. Collective action is often a reaction to a specific event in which people believe an injustice occurred, such as the passing of a discriminatory law or an act of violence.
Whether collective action achieves its goals often depends on how many people get involved in it. The more voices behind the movement, the more likely the demands of the movement will be heard. A group of people taking action together has more power and influence than individuals fighting alone.
Collective action and climate change
In recent years, collective action for the climate has proven to be one of the most powerful forces for change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that humanity has only a few years to prevent climate change from spiralling out of control. This will cause irreversible loss and damage to people and the planet. Yet, government and global action on climate change has been slow and ineffective.
The impact of the climate crisis is not equally distributed across communities and regions. The world’s most vulnerable populations deal with the worst effects of the climate crisis. However, they are the least responsible for them.
Powerful, high-emitting nations (including Ireland) and companies continue to pollute the environment and produce the majority of planet-heating greenhouse gases. However, they often do so without facing any serious consequences. Movements of people have formed all over the world to bring attention to the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. They also call for climate justice, so that the burden of taking climate action is shared equally.
Collective action and Fridays for Future
One of the most influential movements is the Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The movement has inspired young people all over the world to come together and demand strong climate action from their governments.
Young people are among the most climate-vulnerable populations who will experience the future effects of climate change. However, we are often left out of decisions that affects our futures. Taking collective action gives us the voice we may not otherwise have, and can bring about change that would not be possible to achieve alone.
Examples of collective climate action
There are many ways to take collective action for the climate such as:
- Marches to government buildings
- Protests outside the headquarters of large fossil fuel companies and international conferences
- Lobbying politicians to prioritise climate issues
- Online petitions gathering support for climate action
- Awareness-raising campaigns and events like talks, sustainable fashion shows, podcasts, art exhibitions
If you are interested in getting involved in collective action for the climate, there are several climate groups for young people in Ireland. Learn more about climate action groups in Ireland.
Successes of climate movements in Ireland
Much of the progress we have made towards addressing the climate crisis is a result of collective action by ordinary people. As with many social issues, passionate people coming together for a shared concern has led to significant improvements in government action and social awareness.
Some of the recent successes of climate movements in Ireland:
- In 2020, a group of activists called Climate Case Ireland took the Irish Government to court for failing to deliver strong climate action. This is one of the first times a national government was held accountable in a court of law for inaction on the climate crisis. Climate Case Ireland won and as a result, the Irish Government had to revise their existing climate policies and take more ambitious climate action
- In 2023, after decades of campaigning by grassroots climate groups, a plan to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Kerry was blocked by An Bord Pleanála
- Young people are increasingly being included in discussions about climate action, such as the National Youth Assembly on Climate that was established in 2022
Taking action with others can build a sense of community and help to deal with climate anxiety. We can learn much from each other and take comfort from the fact that we are not alone in the fight against climate change. It is more important than ever to do our part for the planet, so why not do it together?
Feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis?
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