I know that so many of us these days are anxious and worried about the unfolding crisis of global warming and often we just want to forget about it and live life as if it did not exist. Last week, however, I spoke with one of the heroines of the climate action movement, and she so inspired me that I feel called to share some of her message with you.
At the Pachamama Alliance Climate Convergence 2023 event, I interviewed Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica. She may not be a household name, but she should be, as she was the chief negotiator of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Accord, an international legally binding agreement on climate change. It is the only agreement in history signed by every country in the world – a miraculous achievement! Christiana is also the author of The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis and is an internationally recognized leader on climate action.
Christiana calls herself a “stubborn optimist,” and while she does not shy away from saying how deeply she feels the pain of the growing dangers of climate change, she is adamant that climate paralysis is not an option and that we need to face the crisis responsibly with an attitude of agency and action. “Face the facts,” she says, “and use our agency to deploy our ingenuity, to cement our gritty determination that we have what it takes to make a difference, and we guarantee success.”
She spoke of how the climate crisis is a stack of crises – of environment, justice, politics, technology – but at its heart, it is a spiritual crisis that derives from the way that we humans have separated ourselves from Nature. In fact, she said, “We are at war with Nature, and the climate challenge is pushing us into the understanding that we are Nature and pulling us toward a regenerative world where humans thrive within Nature.
“Start in our mindset,” she said, “Start in our understanding of our place in the world, our moment in history, why we are here, how do we connect to nature and to each other? And once we have that understanding, then we move to expressing ourselves and to acting and engaging in whichever way is emergent for us.”
When I told Christiana about the theme of the Climate Convergence event, which was We Can. We Must. We Will., she told us that it was the exact same theme claimed by the youth activists in 2015. They wore T-shirts with those six words as a logo. For her, she said, “It’s so beautiful because it doesn’t refer only to climate change. We can/We must/We will applies to everything in our life — that spirit of agency, of being able to focus our ingenuity to make a difference constantly in everything that we do…. And it is fundamentally an opening of the heart.”
Commitment, she said, comes from the heart. “If we do it from the head, its impact will be limited. But if We can/We must/We will comes from the bottom of our heart, it is unstoppable.”
May you find in your heart a commitment to taking action on ending the climate crisis.