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My presidential theme for the year is the climate and ecological emergency; in particular I will focus on mobilizing CIWEM’s 10,000 members and the wider public into action to tackle this emergency.
Our starting point is that the scientific argument has been won – the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report published in 2013 concluded that “it is extremely likely [95-100% probability] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”.There is a rearguard action by climate change deniers but to engage with them at this stage would be a distraction for environmentalists. Our focus needs to be how we can become effective change agents.
This is a new role for us in the technical community. The scientific disciplines have traditionally focused on establishing facts, which then are handed over to policy makers to inform their work. However, as CIWEM noted in its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency in July 2019, we need to create champions of our members and the public. In taking on this new advocacy role, we will need a new skill set.
To mobilise society to action, we need to engage people’s hearts, not their minds. Storytelling will be an essential part of our toolkit, because for millennia humans have used storytelling to make sense out of life.We need a new story that will inspire the whole human race and spur us into action to tackle this crisis.It will need to be underpinned by an inspiring vision with an audacious level of ambition. The story that I want to tell is how the human race reverses global heating.
The technical solutions are identified and available to us to achieve this reversal.Initiatives such as Project Drawdown have produced some very robust research on global climate solutions that will get us to drawdown, “the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then start to steadily decline”.
To actively promote this story fits with CIWEM’s institutional objective of working for the public benefit. We need to support our members so they can play their role.Our organisational infrastructure already in place, including our Climate Change, Arts & the Environment, and Faiths & the Environment Specialist Networks will be particularly valuable. These, together with our commitment as an organisation to achieve a net zero emissions target by 2030, will allow CIWEM to provide the level of leadership that its members expect.
Environmental professionals must step up and provide leadership to the public in tackling the climate crisis. We need to embrace a bold vision: to reach draw down. To achieve this, we must become storytellers, sharing this story of hope and opportunity.
Read David's blog here
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