‘Everyone is welcome, everyone is needed’—why we’re urging civil society to support the Global Climate Strike.
Greenland is melting four times faster than scientists predicted. The Amazon is on fire. And yet, global emissions continue to rise. If you work in social change, now is the time to define yourself as an environmentalist too.
While more and more forward-facing organisations are thinking systemically, one of the crudest, and most persistent, demarcations in civil society is that between organisations working to advance social change and those working in conservation and the environment.
But the scale of the emergency just a few short decades of unchecked carbon emissions and biodiversity loss has wrought on our world renders this boundary increasingly unhelpful, and we believe it is one that we should set aside tomorrow, during the Global School Strike, and on every subsequent day of mass action, until we have convinced global leaders to act to avert catastrophic climate breakdown.
Because not only will climate breakdown upend our lives in ways that are almost unimaginable, it will also imperil every single millimetre of hard-won social—not just environmental—progress we’ve managed to make as a species.
As sea levels rise, as crops fail, as competition for resources sparks more conflict and mass migrations, civil society’s work is about to get a million times harder. The number of beneficiaries we seek to support will rise, the resources we’ll have to help them will dwindle.
This is the single issue that compounds all others.
The time for moderation, and particularly for thinking that this issue is for colleagues in the environmental movement to fix, is quite simply gone.
We believe that until the day we have binding legislation to decarbonise our economy and energy systems, the onus is on each and every one of us to de-compartmentalise ourselves from our specialisms, to redefine ourselves as climate activists.
To stop thinking of ourselves as working in a specific field — of poverty alleviation, of social care, of youth offending, of mental health, of social housing, of tech-for-good for that matter — and to recast ourselves as both social and environmental activists, champions of change in the here and now and the advocates of an altogether different, regenerative system in the future.
At Catalyst we have pledged to link arms with the student strikers and with colleagues in the environmental movement tomorrow, and we encourage any of you called to do so to join us.
But we also suggest you think hard about how you might make the biggest impact. For some of us at Catalyst, that will be by taking to the streets. Others plan to show our solidarity by making climate the focus of our working day: planning how Catalyst might amplify work to accelerate decarbonisation, either at the macro level, through our programmes, or simply in our own supply chains; ways Catalyst might optimise a whole spectrum of environmental organisations so they are operating with the utmost efficiency and resilience; how Catalyst might help others double down on their existing work to tackle the systemic drivers of the climate emergency.
Please join us in this work, and tell us of your plans, and we commit to publish ours as they develop.