Why we are campaigning to end the climate crisis on Earth Day

Saturday 22nd April is Earth Day. A day to shine a spotlight on the urgent need for action to protect the environment and nature, and to tackle climate change.

This year’s Earth Day follows the recent Report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). World-leading climate scientists from all over the globe found that the current actions being taken to keep global warming to safe levels  are ‘insufficient’, and there is a possibility that the world may exceed the 1.5C limit set by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

The report makes for worrying reading for anyone concerned about the future of our planet. However, it also found that it’s by no means too late to take action. In fact it found that we already have all the solutions we need to ‘secure a liveable, sustainable future for all.’

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is to ‘invest in our planet’, and people around the world are being urged to ‘act boldly’ to tackle carbon emissions.

The WI and environmental campaigns

Fortunately, WI members are no strangers to acting boldly to protect our environment. To date, over 50 environmental resolutions have been proposed and passed by WI members since 1926, and have subsequently adopted as WI campaigns. Generations of WI members have campaigned on issues as diverse as ocean oil pollution (1927), deforestation (1989), the conservation of wild flowers (1937), food waste (2016), and renewable energy (2006).

Through our decades of green campaigns and our connections to nature, WI members are all too aware of importance of taking action, and how vital it is for the UK Government to lead from the front to significantly reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. WI members and our Climate Ambassadors are working hard across UK communities to ramp up the pressure on constituency MPs, local councils, businesses, and the wider government to take climate action on all fronts to get on track for 1.5C of emissions before the window closes for good.

Ahead of the COP26 climate conference coming to the UK, we invited WI members to answer the question ‘Why does the Government need to act on climate change?’ You can find a snapshot of these answers below.

Why does the government need to act on climate change?

‘Before it is too late to halt the damage to everyone’s environment. I would like to see a) more on and offshore wind farms; b) easy to access grants for domestic solar panels; c) all new build houses should be fitted with solar panels.’

‘To save our trees. To save the Earth’s creatures. To help human life. To stem droughts and famine, and floods. To prevent extreme weather conditions. To save our planet.’

‘The time has come for action, not just words; the longer there is a delay, the problem will increase and worsen.’

‘Without government action, reaching carbon neutral targets will not be possible. In our town and district, we continue to see development of new housing which does not include adequate insulation or renewable energy. Local authorities are hampered by lack of commitment from government.’

The founder member of Guiseley WI, West Yorkshire Federation, also took the time to share  her fuller reflections on how our climate change changed over her lifetime:

‘I was recently reminded of a book published in 1996 by the West Yorkshire Federation of WIs. It was entitled ‘Within Living Memory.’ I submitted an article which was accepted and was included in the section ‘The big snow of 1947.’ I consider this was relevant to the extreme weather conditions which we are experiencing today, although harsh winters were not as frequent in those days. That winter the snow started to fall in February and persisted until the end of March. Snowdrifts were 7ft or 8ft deep and consisted of solid ice. We spent many hours digging out footpaths to reach the main roads, which were also snowbound. As the ice melted, flooding occurred and it was a harrowing sight seeing farm animals perish in the fields whilst farmers counted the cost. However, nature redeemed itself as is often the case and we were rewarded with a glorious hot summer which went on until September.

A different hazard occurred in 1952- a winter of smog which affected the whole world. New York and London suffered greatly but we also paid the price. I remember walking alongside by father’s car with a fog lamp guiding him home along the country road.

It was not until 1993 that the Clean Air Act was passed forbidding us to use coal in our grates. Air pollution declined remarkably after that.

Weather patterns witnessed today are vastly different- far more frequent and severe. We see flooding on a greater scale along with hurricanes, tornados and cyclones accompanied by heatwaves creating disastrous consequences throughout the World.

Clearly, nations must integrate. Much scientific knowledge is vital in order to make our planet a sustainable environment to enable the whole human race to prosper. Each one of us needs to make some effort and not leave it to someone else.

For instance, we could walk more rather than using the car. Turn off lights when not needed. Cook efficiency and be prepared to spend wisely when purchasing a new fridge, washer or cooker.

Opportunities must be grasped at the (then) coming COP26 meeting in order to avert the disaster and devastation which will descend upon the most vulnerable people in our communities at home and abroad.’

What can you do to take action on climate change?

It is clear that we are at a tipping point – we need urgent action to get to net-zero emissions so that we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We can all play a role in making change happen. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • If you’re not already involved with the WI, you can join us or sign up a supporter and get involved in our climate change campaign.
  • If you’re a WI member, you can join the WI’s Climate Ambassador scheme to receive access to exclusive resources, environmental talks and a network of fellow WI members who are taking action on climate change across UK communities
  • Make and send your MP your own ‘Patchwork Green Heart’ to let them know you are counting on them to take decisive action on climate change
  • Visit The Climate Coalition’s website to find out more about the upcoming Great Big Green Week, taking place in June and access campaign resources, and how you can send a Letter to Tomorrow to the Prime Minister calling for action.
  • Visit the Warm this Winter website to find out more about the Warm this Winter campaign which calls for action to tackle both the energy and climate crisese, access campaign resources and get involved in campaign actions