We hosted the second instalment of the Women Leading Climate Action series on Tuesday, a virtual discussion in partnership with ActionAid Australia that aims to lift the voices of women who are leading on solutions and action on climate change.
ActionAid Australia’s head Michelle Higelin opened the conversation which was moderated by Women’s Agenda founding Editor Angela Priestley, and featured 1 Million Women’s Natalie Isaacs, Head of ActionAid USA, Niranjali Amerasinghe and Katerina Kimmorley, climate entrepreneur and co-founder of Pollinate Energy, a social business that improves the lives of India’s urban poor by making sustainable energy products accessible.
Amerasinghe joined from Washington DC, where she is based, and the rest of the speakers were speaking from their homes in Australia.
Jessie Tu shares some key takeaways heard during the live session. Stay tuned for the next session, happening in May, and check out our previous session held with Zali Steggal, Carol Angir and Kim McKay here.
NOW IS THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
Niranjali Amerasinghe: “Right now in the US, we are at the epicentre of this crisis. The focus of the conversation has been around healthcare and economy and there is not much space to talk about climate change. However, climate change is a global problem that requires global solidarity – just like this coronavirus. The pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities. There are higher percentages of minorities that are being impacted. Workers and labourers are being hit much harder.”
“We need to put more pressure on corporations now and have them shoulder more responsibilities. Both Climate Change and this pandemic affects less advantaged people. We tend to see massive corporate interest in the centre of these issues in addressing the problem. Now is the time where we can work on fixing these systemic issues.”
Natalie Isaacs: “This pandemic is giving us time to pause, and to emerge with a new way forward. We need to ask ourselves, “How do you change the way you live?” Everything you do, every choice, we need to ask if we are making it for the good of the planet. This pandemic is showing us how humanity can transform overnight in the face of adversity. I feel a real sense of optimism. We will need to be really determined about this. We’ve got this window to carve out a new path, and we should act right now.”
Katerina Kimmorley: “I agree we should lean into this pause. We’re thinking more about living a sustainable lifestyle. I want to look more at the causes that I care about around climate and poverty. Covid is only so mcc works in a lot of development countries; duel health and economic; lean into these causes. There’s never been a better time to do this: Like in India, in slums; are getting hit the worse. Keeping those communities front of line. I think we should look at our investments and look at sustainable investment options. Make sure your lifestyle and investments are being aligned.”
“Women are powerful and more likely to invest in their own moral and ethical values. Always ask yourself how your finances reflect what you care about.”
ENSURE YOUR INVESTMENTS ALIGN WITH YOUR VALUES
Katerina Kimmorley: “Talk to climate and clean tech businesses. We should accelerate out from this crisis and help the growth of the industry we want to see have strong impact for a better future. We’re now spending more time at home. Look into energy rooftop and hot water solutions. Look at where you are and where you’re spending time. Ask, ‘What is my super doing? Can I align with more sustainable funds for a more sustainable future?'”
“There’s a host of investment options right now focusing on renewable projects, green bonds, start up companies electric vehicles or solar; there are a plethora of opportunity. We have the time now to see what do we care about. Ask yourself, “How can I facilitate that through my finances? How can I allocate some of my capital to those causes that are actually having big philanthropic impact so we can advocate politically for the causes we can care about.”
TAKE TIME TO REFLECT AND CONSIDER HABITS
Natalie Isaacs: “Our organisation, 1 Million women, is doubling down what we’ve always focused on. “How do we reduce our consumption?” We’re trying to dig deep to see how we emerge from this. How do we emerge as a stronger movement? We should influence somebody, anybody, to get them engaged on this issue of climate change. Now is the time to use your voice and strength to influence others to change. That’s something we’re really focusing on during this time.”
“There’s also a useful website called Market Forces. Have a look at that organisation. (Market Forces is a small climate activist group, and has been heralded as the reason for the government’s push to stop environmental campaigns that advocate boycotts of fossil-fuel companies.)”
Niranjali Amerasinghe: “When the Southern African food crisis was occurring, there was months of no rain which lead to food security in the region. Climate Change is an accelerator. It poses unique challenges. It changes the variability to the extremes, causing floods, then months of no rain causing droughts.
COVID-19 is working in the same way. It throws everything into sharp focus. In both situations, it’s hitting poor, developing countries much harder and it has to do with their existing status. They can’t come back from a storm, there’s often no resources, it’s a cascading impact. At ActionAid, we want to focus on women’s resilience and livelihood. We want countries like the US and Australia to lead the charge by providing finance. This justice element needs us to be providing debt relief to those countries who are struggling.
We need to continue to invest in women as change agents. They are the future. Huge industrial-scale agriculture is damaging the world and we’ll need to move away from that. In terms of speaking to other people about this crisis, find an entry point in your discussions. And always be willing to be bold. You need to be ambitious.”
Katerina Kimmorley: “Write your superannuation fund a letter. There’s never been a more important time to engage with your fund. And if you want to get into Social entrepreneur, make sure you pick something you’d be excited about. Build a team of brilliant team to achieve a united goal. Our ambitions are so small. You can do so much in such a small space of time. Take a small idea, a great idea, the growth idea – blow it up by a hundred times.”