Inspiration and Empowerment: Voices of Climate Action
As Climate Week NYC 2020 ends, we want to highlight reasons to be inspired and stay motivated to drive climate action. We’ve all experienced tumultuous months of the pandemic, and it is important to remember our reasons for continued action. We asked four climate and sustainability activists to understand what empowers people to take climate action and what visions of a just net-zero future look like.
There is no one formula for climate action. From conscious consumption and composting to starting a conversation and voting, climate action takes many different forms.
What does climate action mean to you?
(Image from Remy Morimoto Park/Veggiekin's Instagram)
Remy Morimoto Park said: "To me, it means to take intentional steps towards reducing your impact on the planet. It could be opting for meatless meals, whether once a week or completely removing meat from your diet, making conscious choices when purchasing new things, or bringing your own grocery bag/straw/reusable coffee cup where possible. Above all, I'm a firm believer that whatever action taken should be something that can easily become a long-term lifestyle change or habit - a sustainable habit, if you will!”
Remy Morimoto Park (@Veggiekins) is an NYC based recipe developer and photographer at Veggiekins Blog, and health and wellness writer. She creates vegan and gluten free recipes with a focus on whole food plant based ingredients and the healing power of plants. Her work has been featured by ABCNews, NBC News, News12, Whole Foods Market, Thoughtfully Magazine and more. Outside of the kitchen, she is a certified yoga and meditation teacher, mindfulness coach and holistic nutritionist. You can usually find her at farmer’s markets, watching sunrise or traveling.
- “Climate action is meaningful work to actively eliminate carbon emissions, reconnect with nature, and center indigenous wisdom in a just transition to 100% renewable energy. Climate action is more than just committing to an equitable future at a future date. We have run out of time to commit to a better future, because that “future” is now and the climate crisis is already here.” –Summer Dean
- “Climate action recognizes the need to act in a way through innovative approaches such as activism, education, art, and various forms of mediums. We cannot solely rely on stating intent for action without realizing that action has been present for decades through BIPOC ancestral knowledge.” –Isaias Hernandez
- “The climate crisis and everything that goes along with it is such a huge, broad topic that thinking about it often can cause feelings of anxiety, helplessness and general cynicism. We all can fall victim to those feelings. Climate action to me is taking steps every single day towards a better future and that doesn’t have to be something that’s mind blowing.” –Sabs Katz
When considering the scale of the climate crisis, it can be difficult to feel empowered and to remember that every action matters. As our friends at the Climate Museum shared, 61% of Americans are distressed but paralyzed by the climate crisis. How do you feel empowered to take climate action?
(Picture from Summer Dean/Climatediva's Instagram)
Summer Dean said: “I can’t imagine a future in which nature is obsolete or one in which the places I love have been destroyed by the climate crisis. To keep myself inspired, I often read books and spend time outside. It reminds me of how much we can learn from nature on an everyday basis. So many of the solutions to the climate crisis can be found in nature itself, and that alone empowers me to stay motivated.”
Summer Dean (@climatediva) is an environmental justice advocate and climate communicator. After doing climate justice advocacy work for four years, she created the platform Climate For All, which seeks to make climate activism and politics easy and accessible for everyone. She currently works in politics and uses her platforms to share digestible information in various media forms about climate justice, renewable energy, and intersectionality.
- “I feel empowered by spreading accessible environmental education through a variety of platforms where [people] can engage and share their thoughts.” –Isaias Hernandez
- “I feel empowered thanks to and in large part due to the incredible people I surround myself with who help me continue to feel motivated. I feel empowered when I do things within my local community that make me feel good that I know has a larger impact than I might think it would. A lot of people knock individual action and really believe that the only way change can be made is through policy. We need cohesion between policy and individual action.” –Sabs Katz
- “In all honesty, it can be really difficult to keep a positive attitude and feel empowered in the action I do take. Some days I feel like my actions as an individual will have very little total impact, but when I see good news for the Earth, or see trends towards sustainability and a greener future, it really encourages me to keep going and encourage others to take what steps they can.” –Remy Morimoto Park
As the focus shifts to how we rebuild after COVID-19, we have the opportunity to restore our world with more equitable, just and sustainable systems. What does “building a better future” mean to you?
(Image from Sabs Katz/Sustainablesabs' Instagram)
Sabs Katz said: “The systems in place that we currently have for so long have upheld oppressive ideals that favor the privileged and favor the rich instead of treating everybody equitably and equally. Talking about the climate, we have to recognize intersectional environmentalism, not only how the climate crisis affects the planet but how it affects people. We need a real breakdown and genuine change within every vertical of power. We have to keep raising our voices and raising awareness otherwise nothing is going to change.”
Sabs (@sustainablesabs) advocates for sustainable living through the low impact movement, social activism, plant-based eating, minimalism, ethical + secondhand fashion, conscious consumerism, and personal health + wellness. She is also a co-founder of Intersectional Environmentalist.
- “Building a better future means bringing justice to those who have been marginalized by the climate crisis. It means letting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) lead the way towards a carbon-free future by empowering their own ancestral wisdom and connections to the land. It also means ensuring everyone has basic human rights like a good-paying job, a home, healthcare, clean air and water, access to free public transportation and healthy food. By solving the climate crisis, we can also solve a lot of other issues that will make life more enjoyable for a lot of people. We need a just transition that makes clean energy cheap and accessible to everyone.” –Summer Dean
- “Something that has really stuck with me since my Girl Scouts camping days are the sayings ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’ and ‘leave things better than you found them’. I like to think of myself as a visitor on this lovely planet, and I think we should all adopt that mentality and tread lightly with our future generations in mind. If we don't act with the future in mind, the mess we may leave behind may become irreversible.” –Remy Morimoto Park
- “Building a regenerative future recognizes that Indigenous communities are at the forefront of these conversations, movements. The creation of a future where no one is harmed.” –Isaias Hernandez
It's important to remember the goal of your actions. Envisioning the goal can help to keep you motivated to make the daily habit adjustments. What does your vision of a just net-zero future look like?
(Image from Isaias Hernandez/Queerbrownvegan's Instagram)
Isaias Hernandez said: “Net-Zero incorporates concepts from environmental justice and energy justice, where communities can develop circular regenerative practices that create a positive environmental impact.”
Isaias Hernandez (@queerbrownvegan) is the creator of Queer Brown Vegan where he makes accessible environmental education content. As a Queer, Brown, and Vegan environmentalist, he seeks to provide a safe space for other like-minded environmentalists to engage in the discourse of the current climate crisis.
- “I'd love to see a future in which everyone is involved and actively participating in the preservation of our home. Ideally, it would be great to live in a plastic-free, plant-based world but more than anything I'd love to see everyone trying their best and doing what they can to contribute to the greater good.” –Remy Morimoto Park
- “My vision of a net-zero just future looks like one in which we not only achieve net-zero carbon emissions and transition to 100% renewables, but one in which the actual systems of oppression that caused and perpetuate the climate crisis are eradicated. A net-zero future must include energy justice, community-owned energy, programs and resources for those who currently work in the fossil fuel industry to transition to work in renewables, and more." –Summer Dean
- “I see the world running on entirely renewable energy. I see the agriculture world evolving towards permaculture and environmental stewardship, learning from and amplifying indigenous knowledge on agriculture and on the land. I see more urban green spaces and more urban farms. I would love to see more education around sustainability and health and nutrition. These definitely can be implemented, which will certainly take time, but it’s not impossible. This is something that we can definitely do.” –Sabs Katz