By Carolina Jones and edited by Lana Bess, with the Co Lab’s Climate Hub 

After reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it is easy to feel a sense of dread set in. The report confirmed what many of us have known for a while: the climate crisis is real, it is serious, and it isn’t going away any time soon. 

If we knew this already, why does our attitude toward the climate crisis change so much after the report?  Because at this point, there is no denying that we need to act now. There is no doubt about whether or not we can wait to take drastic measures. 

What stood out to me most from the report was the fact that the goal of the Paris Climate agreement is now unrealistic. I had clung to the Paris Climate Agreement as the last hope, a safety net. Our world leaders came together to set this goal and promised to work towards it. Now that keeping the rise in temperature under 1.5ºC is unattainable, it looks like we need to reassess this goal.

Since it is hard to deny the climate crisis right now with the IPCC predicament looming over our heads, many are freaking out about the situation. But we can’t let that happen either. An attitude of “Well, it’s already really bad, so there’s not much else I can do,” won’t take us anywhere. 

I understand that it’s hard not to feel terrified. I stress about the climate crisis, and I sometimes feel helpless in the face of this man-made disaster. 

This is called eco-anxiety, and it is becoming more prominent as more awareness and bad news about the climate crisis spreads. It’s important for everyone to be climate optimist if we are going to make any big changes.  When I say ‘climate optimist’, I don’t mean that we should just pretend that our climate is fine or that we don’t need to do anything about it. I mean that we need to be optimistic about the changes we will make. We can remain optimistic by taking action.

There was scientific evidence before this report, and the report shows even more proof that we need to act now. I think there is a lot of despair because there is not enough information out there on how to take action. We feel helpless because we don’t know what we can do to reduce global emissions.  

When I was younger, I thought that climate change was a simple problem that could be solved by turning off the lights in my household and making sure the faucets didn’t drip. I believed that if enough people did this, the climate crisis would be mitigated. 

I know now that it is a lot more complicated. We need big actions. Most of our global emissions are from major companies and corporations. I don’t understand how these companies can continue to emit with no thought for the very future of our planet They are making short-term investments; they are looking for profit now and now only. To mitigate the climate crisis, there needs to be some change taken by these big companies to reduce their emissions and waste. 

This makes it harder for us to get involved because we are in charge of the energy we use and the waste we create in our homes, but we aren’t in charge of major corporations that create most of our global emissions. I think that is why so many people feel helpless in the face of the climate crisis.

We need to convince our governments and major businesses to set ambitious goals for reducing emissions. 

That being said, I still turn off my lights and turn off faucets firmly because little actions still help. If we convince entire communities to take energy-saving and conservation measures, we can reduce a large chunk of global emissions. This involves saving energy in your home, eating less meat, carpooling, and much more. 

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is what many are looking to as a way to set new goals in response to the information from the IPCC report. COP26 is a global conference that will be held in Glasgow this year. I hope that the IPCC report will be the wake-up call needed to activate larger and more influential actions taken by countries around the world. We can help make this happen by voicing our opinions to our peers and our government on what needs to change in order to reduce global emissions. 

Taking action is the solution to both the worsening state of our planet and our eco-anxiety. We can lobby our government and corporations to implement new plans to reduce emissions that will meet our goals in the future. We can also help spread the word about small local actions that can be taken together. I hope that we can turn this bad news into a new surge of action. So next time a major report comes out, we can feel good about the future of the planet and the change that we have created. 

Teens globally have and will continue to work to educate and act on this global unprecedented crisis.  Join our virtual teen-led Climate Hub that meets weekly to work towards action with other teens globally who feel as passionate about the climate crisis as I do. Read more about the Global Co Lab’s Climate Hub and join the Climate Hub

Below I have provided some resources for taking action and learning more, and I encourage you to check them out. 

Learn more-

Greta Thunberg – The disarming case to act right now on climate change

Clover Hogan – What to do when climate change feels unstoppable

Read more about the IPCC report

How to take action-

Lobby to your government with CCL to promote a tax on carbon emissions 

Find opportunities near you with Fridays for Future