Discover more from Talking Climate with Katharine Hayhoe
Microloans support climate action
Microloans to aid energy transition and adaptation, climate justice around the world, and how to catalyze change
Making changes to cut down on our household carbon emissions can be pricey. Dealing with the repercussions of climate change on our homes and businesses, on the other hand, can be even costlier; and in those situations, nobody gets to choose when disaster strikes. That’s why I’m encouraged to hear about microloan programs that are helping people take the steps needed to reduce their emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change.
In Latin America, microfinance loans are helping small-scale farmers, many of whom are at increasing risk of drought and other extreme weather, invest in environmentally friendly and climate-resilient agricultural practices. The UN Environment Programme Microfinance for Ecosystem-based Adaptation program is working with micro-lenders across Latin America to provide thousands of these types of loans to farmers across the region.
Kicking Gas, a coalition of six local groups on Whidbey Island in Washington state, is helping residents save 20 to 50 percent on the cost of installing a heat pump. They are also giving out low-interest microloans to low-income residents who can’t afford the rest of the purchase.
Since you subscribe to this newsletter, you won’t be surprised to hear how this heat pump program started: because, locally, people were talking about the urgent need for climate action – especially youth climate activists. I’m convinced this is one of the best and most effective ways we can all catalyze change!
Weather extremes are getting worse, and climate change is to blame. While this impacts all of us, it doesn’t affect us all equally. Over the last two decades, for example, Myanmar, Haiti, the Philippines, and Mozambique are among the countries that have taken the biggest hit, according to the Global Climate Risk Index. These and many other countries with low carbon footprints are facing with the worst of the impacts: and that’s not fair.
Just the other week, Hurricane Otis hit the west coast of Mexico. Hurricanes are intensifying faster than they did in the past thanks to warming seas fueled by climate change, and Otis was no exception. Overnight, it ramped up from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane before making landfall near Acapulco. The flooding and destruction Otis caused there was catastrophic, destroying hotels and tourist areas; but the devastation was far more severe in many of the poorer neighborhoods and nearby towns, where people were still waiting for help weeks later.
On the other side of the world, a new World Weather Attribution study finds that the current three-year drought that Syria – where 90% of people live below the poverty line – is currently enduring was entirely caused by climate change. "Without human-induced climate change, the current drought in Syria, Iraq & Iran, causing millions to abandon their land, would not have been one," tweeted my colleague Fredi Otto.
As Bangladeshi scientist Dr. Saleemul Huq articulated so clearly, “Climate change can be characterised as pollution by rich people and rich countries adversely impacting poor people, in both rich and poor countries. This is morally wrong and every religion teaches that it is wrong. If we accept this premise, then it is incumbent on each and every person on the planet to take requisite actions to tackle climate change.”
Dr. Huq passed away just two weeks ago. Before he did, though, he and colleague Dr. Farhana Sultana clearly laid out what needs to happen to address the inequity of climate impacts. Read their thoughts here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of these disasters and inequities. But if you’re reading this, it means you have the ability to act and to use your voice to catalyze change. So don’t look away. Instead,
Educate yourself about how climate change is disproportionately impacting those who are already vulnerable and marginalized, from increasing the risk of child brides in Malawi to putting minority neighbourhoods in many of North America’s biggest cities at greater risk for extreme heat and air pollution. This UNDP article on climate justice is a good place to start.
If you are on social media, look for accounts to follow to learn more: like Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice” and other Black scientists and environmental leaders; young climate activists from the global south; Indigenous climate activists who are often in the front lines opposing fossil fuel expansion; and organizations that fight for healthier communities, environmental justice, and climate action.
Look for opportunities to share what you learn with people around you, and to work together to address inequities in your community. Kicking Gas is a great example of that!
Talk to your elected officials about this too; learn what inequities exist in your community and help make decision-makers aware of the problem and potential solutions.
It's absolutely crucial that we don't turn a blind eye to the impacts of climate change. We need to know how it's affecting both our local communities and people on the other side of the globe because, as journalist Justin Worland argues here, it matters to us all – and because climate solutions can also be solutions for health, equity, justice, and a better world for all.
We can’t do it alone, but I know we can do it together.