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Turning concern into action with volunteer network Climate Changemakers

Photography By Unsplash
Published 09.07.21

As the number of people who want to see action on climate change grows, more and more are asking themselves what they can do. This question led to the formation of Climate Changemakers, a nonprofit, all-volunteer network designed to help individuals take action on climate change issues. 

The premise is that everyone can devote one hour a week to climate action and with the support of a cross-generational, nonpartisan community of folks who care about life on planet earth, that hour can be highly productive.

Climate Changemakers began as a grassroots climate action network, giving ordinary citizens a place to direct their energy and concern for climate change where it can make the biggest impact. One of their key initiatives is focused on getting climate candidates elected and climate policies passed, and individuals who join the network are given resources to help make that happen.

The key to mobilising passionate followers is giving them a way to regularly engage in the process of advocating for the climate, not only every four years in the federal election cycle but through their weekly “Hour of Action” Zoom sessions. No preparation is needed. Volunteers just turn up and engage in meaningful dialogue with other friendly faces. Not only are they empowered and listened to, but they participate directly in combatting the climate crisis.

For example, the one hour each week devoted to climate action might be spent campaigning on behalf of politicians with a climate agenda and policy commitment. This raises awareness around the importance of climate policy across the political spectrum by those with the influence and power to enact change. Events are planned in advance (put a reminder in your iPhone calendar) such as a meeting with U.S Congressmembers on July 23.

The founding group of changemakers met via an online climate community, MyClimateJourney, bonding over a shared desire to prove that climate action is a nonpartisan, unifying issue. Working collaboratively to highlight ways individuals can get involved, and find solutions, they apply their expertise and skills from different domains: climate science, politics, and technology.

In 2017, Eliza Nemser, executive director of Climate Changemakers, transitioned her career from environmental consulting to focus on climate politics. She’s an earth science PhD by training, but became an environmental strategist and advocate working with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund.

After the historic October 2017 wildfires in Northern California, Nemser was compelled to stop doing science and get political. Climate Changemakers brings her experience from promoting science-based, health-protective environmental policies and organising advocacy events and melds it with the rest of the team’s experience from the technology and startup worlds.

Changemakers gives the community an opportunity to have a voice, to learn from influential guest speakers, listen to policy briefings and discuss innovative ways to enact change with stakeholders and politicians. Ordinary people can make an extraordinary change by engaging in the conversation.

Nemser says “Our effort is still to get action for climate by building each person’s capacity for influence. We’re planning to experiment with a few new partner organisations and look forward to seeing how we can support big, bold climate action working with others in the space.” The group has already worked with partners to encourage them to take steps like contacting relevant lawmakers, posting messages on social media and writing letters to the editors of media outlets.

For a climate organisation based in the US, the future now looks more hopeful. President Joe Biden is clearly committed to climate action and with the appointment of John Kerry as climate ambassador, this administration is taking the threat of climate change more seriously than its predecessors. Responding to a question about the role the US can play in the climate space going forward, Nemser replied “We’re optimistic and hopeful. It’s going to be a lot of work, but there is huge potential and responsibility for the US to be a positive leader on climate change. Changemakers will be here keeping the pressure on to make action happen.”

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