The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this week details how future climate impacts will affect our society, and many of us may be wondering what the future holds. It is increasingly evident that stability and security, justice and peace, food and shelter — basic necessities and human rights — are not given. We must ask our leaders and adjust our own actions to protect them.

While all the news this week is hard to digest, I believe that as individuals and as our leaders, we know exactly what we need to do about climate change. Climate change is a problem with known solutions: We must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for strong climate impacts immediately.

As CEO of the Marine Conservation Society, I naturally set my sights on our oceans. There, we can tackle shipping emissions, which are projected to account for 18% of global emissions by 2050. We can reduce the production of virgin plastic from fossil fuels while also polluting our oceans. We can find opportunities for alternative energy sources such as offshore wind and other marine renewables. We can protect coastal habitats such as mangroves and seagrass, which serve as key tools for protecting communities from intensified storms, while also safely storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We can upgrade and relocate our coastal infrastructure to ensure we provide households with safe drinking water and keep wastewater out of rivers and bays. While we are staring at what may be the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, we also have solutions ready to be implemented.

This IPCC report, based on research by 270 of the world’s leading scientists, clearly shows that we must make choices. If we continue on the current path, we will see our oceans deteriorate before our eyes. If we want to save our planet, our coastal communities and our oceans, we must act now. Some changes in our oceans will be irreversible. Every day we wait, more incredible marine habitats and life are lost.

What can we do to combat the climate crisis?

Every IPCC report brings grim headlines that may make us all despair.We still have a chance to tackle the climate crisis, but we need to act on a larger scale than anything we’ve done so far. As an ocean advocate, you play a vital role in changing our future. When considering what you can do, it may be helpful to ask three questions:

1) What should the government do?

We need bold planning and execution at all levels of government to tackle climate change. In the US, Congress must pass the climate element of the Build Back Better Act. We must accelerate the transition to renewable energy, end fossil fuel subsidies and related project investment, and invest in coastal restoration and protection. You can take action today with the Ocean Conservancy.

You can also go a step further and call and meet with your congressional representatives to urge them to support legislation to address the climate crisis. This is an opportunity to talk about why climate change matters to you as part of them. Has your community been hit by an unprecedented weather event? Do you live in a coastal community at risk of sea level rise? Regardless of your experience, your voice can be a powerful tool in getting your elected officials to prioritize climate action and understand the urgency with which we must act.

2) What can companies do?

Just 100 companies account for 70% of global emissions. Importantly, we hold companies accountable through government regulations and by using our purchasing power as consumers, board members or employees.

You can support companies in taking meaningful climate action through your sourcing choices. You can also check your bank or investment accounts to see if they invest in fossil fuel companies and choose options that support greener companies. If you’re canceling service or switching to a new product, it’s important to tell the company why you’re switching. Enough people taking this step could be a powerful motivator for these companies to rethink their practices. You can also see how your own workplace contributes to climate change and advocates for changes that reduce carbon emissions. These actions may feel like a drop in the bucket, but they can add up and force companies to make big changes.

3) What can I do?

While no one can “fix” climate change, there are things we can all do to address this enormous challenge. We can minimise our climate impact in many ways, such as reducing energy and water consumption, composting food waste or choosing to take public transport, bike or walk rather than drive. We can also look beyond ourselves and find ways to help our friends, family and neighbors get involved in putting pressure on governments and businesses. One of the best ways to do this is to talk more about it. Discussions about climate change can engage others in the movement and help them find ways to take action in their own lives. The work is tough, and we have climate partners by our side who can support and drive our collective response to climate change.

The IPCC report not only provides the basic science we need to understand climate change, but also serves as a warning sign that we need to act. All of us should hear the alarm and demand massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is a problem with clear solutions, and now is the time to make these bold, radical changes to save our oceans, our planet and our communities.

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