WHO will SAVE the PLANET?
Marie Claire Australia|May 2021
For too long, the climate-crisis discussion has been dominated by stale, pale, male voices. But now, a new chorus is speaking up, demanding change and leading the fight for our future. Alley Pascoe meets the women rallying for climate justice
Alley Pascoe
We are standing on the edge of a precipice. It’s not a line drawn in the sand, it’s a gaping chasm that’s growing wider by the day. The climate crisis has become epitomised by a number of tipping points that we are perilously close to crossing – points beyond which the environment will be irrevocably damaged and the cascading impacts on society will be existential. This is the point of no return.

If that sounds dramatic, that’s because it is. The climate crisis is no longer a problem for tomorrow, it needs to be addressed now. According to a new report by the Climate Targets Panel, Australia needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least half before 2030 to help limit global heating to 2°C; a 74 per cent reduction would be better, as it would reduce heating to 1.5°C. Climate activists have been promoting the mantra “1.5 to Stay Alive” for years. This isn’t a hypothetical situation – it’s life and death.

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change introduced the idea of tipping points more than 20 years ago, they weren’t considered likely to occur. Now, they’re a terrifying reality. These tipping points include the melting of icesheets in Antarctica and Greenland, loss of rainforest in the Amazon, the shutdown of currents in the Atlantic Ocean and shifts in the Indian and West African monsoon seasons. Australia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change – think the 2020 bushfires when the horizon burned bright red and smoke hung menacingly for months. The past decade has been warmer than any other decade in the past century, but it is also projected to be the coolest decade for the next century. The CSIRO predicts that temperatures will continue to rise; Alice Springs will swelter through an average of 203 days over 35°C in 2080, while Perth will hit an average of 42 days above 35°C. Droughts will be more extreme, sea levels will rise and snow cover will decline.

The enormity of the climate crisis can feel immobilising, but inaction isn’t an option. To mark Earth Day on April 22, marie claire is looking to the leaders who are agitating for real change, sharing their knowledge for the greater good and giving us hope for the next generation.

The CLIMATE FEMINISTS

“Climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution” – MARY ROBINSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRELAND

It’s not sexist to say climate change is a women’s issue. Research by the United Nations shows 80 per cent of people displaced by the climate crisis are women. Data also reveals that women are more dependent on the environment when it comes to work – as the primary caregivers and providers of food and fuel in many cultures – so their livelihoods are most at risk. Moreover, there is growing evidence of the link between climate change and gender-based violence. As noted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, periods of prolonged drought means women have to journey for longer to collect water, making them more vulnerable to sexual assault en route. At home, the stress of poor harvests, lower earnings and food insecurity puts pressure on men’s traditional role as providers, often leading to alcohol abuse and violence. In some cases, women are forced into sex work and families marry off their daughters out of desperation from food scarcity, a direct result of climate change.

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