Christiana Figueres: Breaking News: The Planet’s on Fire, Y’all

July 11 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Climate Change

In May of this year, a video featuring American icon (and deity to us 90s kids) Bill Nye went viral. On the outstanding show Last Week Tonight, Bill (can I call you Bill, Bill?) held a blowtorch, dropped the F-bomb, and reminded everyone that the world is on fire. According to the current patterns, he explains that by the end of this century, the temperature will be 7–14 degrees warmer. Carbon emissions from cars and coal contribute to this, and it’s time we wake up and realize this is a crisis. Just because we might not be around by year 2999 doesn’t mean we can ignore climate change. How are you going to help the Earth today, tomorrow, forever?


I think a lot of people don’t talk about climate change or do much about it because they don’t get it. For many of us, it was introduced as “global warming,” and quickly became a politicized issue even though we all know that the earth isn’t red or blue, Republican or Democrat. Politics aside, let’s look at the facts: 2016 was the warmest year on record. Climate change is responsible for extreme and erratic weather, forcing animals and humans to adapt - some of which won’t be able to.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Christiana Figueres, International Leader on Global Climate Change

Maybe you know all about climate change and it freaks you out, like wanting to hide in a closet and not think of the polar bears on a thawing iceberg. I feel you because, girl, that’s me, too. Thankfully, some amazing people have devoted their lives to researching this issue - and they could be the reason why the world doesn’t blow up.

Christiana Figueres is one of those people. For six years, she was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Now, she’s the convener of Mission 2020.

Mission 2020 is a global initiative with the aim to decrease the world’s gas emissions by 2020. Christiana and others who are steering Mission 2020 hope to achieve this goal through six areas: energy, infrastructure, transport, land use, industry and finance. The aim is for renewable energy to supersede the use of fossil fuels, and for cities to propose and implement strategies to decarbonize.

Of course, an increase of electric and hybrid vehicles is paramount to stalling climate change and is a movement to restore land, which will foster greater biodiversity. Perhaps the most challenging milestone that Christiana and Mission 2020 face is industry change, like incorporating reuse and recycling. The final area – finance – has been achieved in the public sector, with at least $200 billion invested in climate change action.

Christiana has had to deal with some tough battles. During her time at the UN, she took the blame for failed conversations in Copenhagen a year before she took her position. (That’s always how it goes, right?) During the end of her tenure, Christiana helped strategize and achieve the famous Paris Agreement of 2015 which, put simply, unites countries toward a goal of working to fight climate change.

This green gal says she feels encouraged. That can be a hard thing when an issue like climate change feels insurmountable. But Christiana says the activism and collaboration she’s witnessed among women gives her hope for the future, and it should give you a little hope, too.


Another woman who worked hard on the significant issue of civil rights, Ida B. Wells, said:

"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them."

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