As you may imagine, the IPCC report released last week has been top of mind for all of us. The report tells us that the last decade has been warmer than ever recorded in over 100,000 years, affecting weather and climate in every region across the globe. Climate change demands attention, as well as focus and grit of the likes it hasn’t yet been widely given. It demands genuine cooperation across local, regional, national, and international communities. I can’t help but draw comparisons with another international phenomena of the last few weeks—the Olympics.
While we all know of the hype and corruption connected with the Olympics, the majority of individuals and teams that come to the Games demonstrate spirit and determination—the exact kind we need to successfully deal with the climate crisis. In my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, we were proud to honor Sunisa Lee, the first Hmong American gold medalist, for her all around gymnastics performance. Although Simone Biles had been favored to win, she decided to step away last minute to honor her mental health. In the all around competition, Suni stumbled on the balance beam and didn’t score highest on the vault, but her performance in other events helped her finish with a gold. Her teammates cheered on the sidelines, her family cheered from back home. Most importantly, her lived experience as the daughter of immigrants and her desire to make the Hmong American community proud and seen also helped her finish number one.
To bring it all home, my message is this: we all need to focus on a gold medal in the “climate action” all around right now. Where Suni had balance beam and vault, our events are the clean energy revolution, fossil fuel elimination, climate change education and combating misinformation, forest protection, and so much more. We need friends and colleagues cheering and engaging alongside us. We need to listen and center the voices of the most marginalized communities, those who live with climate change impacts on a first and worst scale. We also need to be willing to step in for our teammates when they need a break and share the work collectively as a global community.
It is my hope as we move towards COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland that this spirit of global cooperation and overwhelming determination grows. We are so excited to support a delegation to the United Nations climate conference (COP26) composed of six individuals that embody this spirit.
Interim Executive Director