These Inspirational Women are Taking Charge against Climate Change
Climate change is rocking the boat we all are aboard, and without any impactful and quick actions against the phenomenon, the planet is bound to doom. As revealed by the United Nations, we have about 12 years to reduce our current carbon emissions before the planet reaches the ‘no turning back’ point – after which no efforts can reverse the effects of changing climate.
Africa, South Asia, Latin America, Antarctica, and Australia are among the vast regions where climate change is wreaking havoc. Extreme weather conditions around the world like the tropical storm in the Bahamas, the Amazon forest fires, cities like Cape Town and Chennai facing severe water scarcity are signs that climate change is affecting all parts of the world.
Millions of individuals of various species on earth have already been affected by changing climatic patterns and billions of them are threatened by catastrophic events that climate change could trigger in the near future; especially women, as they have been suppressed by the other gender.
The human race has been trying to patch things up, but one-half of the race i.e. female populations has been severely affected. From sinking islands to drought-ridden savannas, women bear an outsize burden of the climate change crisis, largely because of gender inequalities.
Women against Climate Change
In many parts of the world, women hold traditional roles as the primary caregivers in families and communities, and, as the main providers of food and fuel, are more vulnerable when flooding and droughts occur; the UN estimates that 80 percent of those who have been displaced by climate change are women.
Given their position on the front line of the climate change battle, women are uniquely situated to be agents of change – to help find ways to mitigate the causes of global warming and to adapt to its impacts on the ground. This reality was recognized by the Paris Agreement, which specifically included the global need to further empower women in climate decision-making.
Disadvantages to this gender make them prone to get harshly affected by the changing climate and its contributing factors. Nevertheless, they stepped up against the phenomenon and trying to lessen its effects. Today, across the world, from boardrooms and policy positions to local communities, from science to activism, women everywhere are using their voices to take up leadership and call for action on climate change.
Several youth and women leaders have stepped up to lead the fight against climate change and government inaction. Here are a few inspirational personalities who are taking action in their communities; women working against climate change and trying to save the world from the effects of this phenomenon.
Greta Thunberg – The Young Activist
The 18-year-old Swedish climate activist has taken over the entire world with her blunt attitude and powerful words on climate action. Greta Thunberg became the face of leading protests against the inaction on rapidly changing climatic conditions. She captivated the world’s attention in August 2018, when she skipped school and went on a strike outside the Swedish parliament, demanding the government to reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Since then she has joined hands with millions of people for ‘Fridays for Future’ strikes. Her weekly strikes have inspired children all over the world to skip school and demand immediate climate action. Thunberg has spoken at several inter-governmental and global summits like the UN Climate Summit, the World Economic Forum, COP24 Climate Summit, and more. She has called politicians and entrepreneurs out for not doing enough.
Greta is only advocating solutions to tackle climate change, but also popularizing long-term sustainable living methods. She refuses to fly, travels via trains throughout Europe, and took a two-week-long transatlantic journey to get to New York for the UN Climate Summit.
However, her brave and inspirational actions have met with sneers and petty remarks from various world-famous personalities, including Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. She has been attacked on social media for her appearance and sexuality. Nevertheless, Greta, a teenage girl, is relentlessly working against climate change in the cruel world of hateful and egotistic men.
Rizalyn Biong – Risk Assessment Facilitator
A 32-year-old mother of three, Rizalyn is one of the people that were heavily affected by Typhoon Haiyan in December 2013. After the disaster was over, Rizalyn became a part of CARE International – a humanitarian agency that addresses a broad range of topics including emergency response, food security, water and sanitation, education, health, climate change, and more. She is one of the most energetic community risk assessment facilitators in the Philippines.
CARE has been organizing community risk assessment training since Haiyan swept through the Philippines. Rizalyn’s role is to help community members understand disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
She has helped in conducting training in 25 villages around Dagami Town, Philippines. She believes that the training could continue to refresh people’s learning about risks and ways to adapt to climate change. She hopes to remain with the training program with her community members to promote a profound understanding of climate change and how to reduce the risk factors of the same.
Kate Brandt – Focusing on Google’s Sustainability Goals
Kate is the Sustainability Officer at Google; before that, she was the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer at the White House. Since leaving her job at the first federal CSO in 2015 – where she initiated energy cuts estimated to save taxpayers over $18 billion – Brandt has put the company’s analytics, artificial intelligence, and investment might to put to use for the safety of the planet.
She has arranged for the manufacturing of wind and solar farms (in September Google engineered the biggest corporate procurement ever) and recently created an accelerator for startups focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, by 2030, Google aims to be the first major company to operate carbon-free in order to halt the changing climatic conditions.
Brandt has been trying to create a circular Google in a sustainable world. Launching that mission she said,
An element of reaching a fully circular economy requires identifying, tracking, and managing the overwhelming and globe-spanning swirl of materials. To do that, Google will need to create new, and even unlikely partnerships across industries.
Rebecca Marmot – Unilever’s Sustainability In-charge
Rebecca Marmot has been at the center of the British-Dutch consumer goods company’s sustainability and CSR strategy since before Unilever’s revolutionary Sustainable Living plan launched in 2010, calling for comprehensive changes in how it obtained and mass-produced everything.
Marmot has created the company’s first foundation, despite being the chief sustainability officer for over a year. She also has been the lead on many of Unilever’s external partnerships aimed at addressing climate change, including the UN Global Compact.
Last year, Marmot was pivoting to prioritize three areas under the new Unilever CEO: reinforcing the link between sustainability and commercial success; embedding sustainability considerations more deeply into the company’s brands, and celebrating diversity.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim – Indigenous Activist
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, from the Mbororo pastoralist community in Chad, has been working for over a decade to bridge the distance between the international decisions on climate change with the ground reality. She has been voicing the conditions and impact of changing climate on the country to the rest of the world.
Ibrahim has been traveling the country to meet with other indigenous groups to know more about environmental impacts. She has witnessed resources shrinking, and people struggling to survive. Leading up to the historic 2015 climate change meetings in Paris, she was a significant leader among indigenous groups that successfully indicated to have their rights recognized.
Indigenous communities are among the most vulnerable factions of society to the impacts of climate change, but they can offer solutions as well, having lived their entire lives in harmony with the earth. Their centuries-old traditional knowledge can help the world to adopt.
Francesca DeBiase – Reducing McDonald’s Environmental Impact
Francesca DeBiase assumed the responsibility for the restaurant company’s climate change reduction, animal welfare, and sustainable food and packaging programs in 2015, apart from her existing supply chain sourcing agenda.
While the company has been working towards reducing its impact on the environment, only in 2019, it made its first US forays into renewable energy procurement. Under Francesca’s role as Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer, McDonald’s has also launched various programs to eliminate plastic packaging and new ways to use its waste.
Yolanda Malone – Implementing Recycling Packaging at PepsiCo
Vice President of Global Snacks Packaging at PepsiCo, Malone was behind the company’s push to create an ongoing triaging and certification program for its packaging designers, which meant to get them to rethink selection and reuse.
PepsiCo’s corporate goal is to make certain that 100 percent of its packaging be recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. Much of this goal focuses on the billions of plastic bottles it produces on an annual basis. To support the development of a circular economy in which plastics never become waste, PepsiCo’s “Sustainability Agenda” must achieve its full potential. Malone has been the key motivator behind this initiative.
Lena Pripp-Kovac – Bringing Climate Positivity to IKEA
The sustainability lead of IKEA, Lena Pripp-Kovac has been working toward reducing the home goods and furnishings retailer’s carbon emissions. Impressively, IKEA managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 4.3 percent in absolute terms while sales grew by 6.5 percent in the fiscal year 2019.
In order to achieve IKEA’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint further, it requires $220 million more in investments in clean power (including sustainable biofuels for ships transporting its products), reforestation, and forest protection before 2030.
Meanwhile, Pripp-Kovac has been pushing to embed circular economy principles into the company’s product design, manufacturing, and sales processes. It eliminated all single-use plastic items, and close to 760 percent of the polyester in its textiles comes from recycled sources.
Vandana Shiva – The Environmental Hero
An outspoken feminist and advocate of small-holder farmers, Vandana Shiva is well-known in agricultural circles. Over the past three decades, she has established several organizations to promote native seeds, organic farming, and fair trade.
Shiva has also trained more than 900,000 farmers in the principles of food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, which earned her the title of an “environmental hero” by Time Magazine. She has been a critic of industrial agriculture and believes that we need to work in harmony with the living earth to remove the past damages, by nourishing the soil and conserving biodiversity.
Christiana Figueres – The Climate Change Diplomat
Christiana Figueres had been heading a climate change nonprofit for eight years, and recently took on leadership of the UNFCCC, the body responsible for international climate change negotiations, at the agency’s lowest point. As the world has failed to meet an agreement at the 2009 Copenhagen summit, Figueres injected a unique sense of optimism and steered world leaders to reach the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Along with a number of other women involved in the negotiations, she was successful in displaying the gender dimension of climate change. She is currently immersed in writing a book on how to tackle the changing climate in the next 10 years.
Rachel Kyte – Leading Away from Fossil Fuels
With climate change becoming a pressing issue, Rachel Kyte’s expertise comes as an aid for heads of state and multinational CEOs trying to figure out a way to transition away from fossil fuels. She played an influential role in the September 2019 UN Climate Change Summit by leading the UN Secretary General’s push for countries and companies to make new commitments to accelerate the energy transition.
As the leader of the World Bank’s climate program ahead of the Paris Agreement, Kyte also developed strategies to make enough funds available for developing nations eager to combat climate change but lacking the resources. She currently leads a nonprofit, Sustainable Energy for All, which seeks to bring energy to under-developed places while helping them move away from fossil fuel consumption, simultaneously.
Sunita Narain – Environmental Activist
An environmental-policy researcher since 1982, Sunita Narain has won several awards for work on issues ranging from rainwater harvesting to tiger conservation to air pollution eradication. Recently, her focus has been on the minority voices from the Global South that are being neglected in the climate change dialogue.
She believes that Indian authorities have started to take climate change more seriously given the severe floods and other climate-related calamities that have affected thousands in the recent past. The country is focusing on reducing its carbon emissions and urge other nations to follow the suit. Narain doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind on the Indian government’s plans and policies regarding the issue of climate change and related phenomena.