The Climate Crisis is the Defining Emergency of Our Time

The underlying theme of this talk is interconnectedness – the interconnectedness of our global problems and a call to arms to understand that by solving the climate crisis we are in fact going a long way towards solving a host of other man-made problems e.g. employment, gender equality, and possibly even Covid-19.

Our problems have become so intertwined that we need cohesive solutions to address and resolve these challenges. We need to make sure that the solutions are overlaid and holistic, and this is not just about changing regulatory architecture, but about formulating new architecture that’s needed to change mindsets and attitudes. If we stick with rigid constructs driven by capitalist structures, it will be very hard, if not impossible to move the needle.


The climate crisis is the defining emergency of our time. There seems to have been a shuffling of the deck since the Covid wild card came about however – if anything – it has demonstrated that the solutions we devise need to work in tandem to redress both.


How can women drive sustainable change in a way that meaningfully impacts the environment?

In third world countries especially, and at a very basic level, it is mostly women who are responsible for securing food, water and energy for cooking, heating and sustaining families. This means that they depend on natural resources for their families’ livelihoods, and these are often threatened by drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation.

In developed countries, and in terms of corporate change, women’s leadership in business is critical to driving significant economic opportunities and driving better performance, as well as broader, long-term benefits for society and the environment.

There is also evidence that businesses with a higher concentration of women at C-suite level are better able to shift their business’s focus from maximising short-term bottom-line profit to achieving longer-term growth goals. Research also indicates that women at senior levels also tend to be more collaborative and skilled at balancing multiple stakeholders’ interests to reach decisions that benefit all parties. Companies with more women on their boards are more likely to invest in renewable power generation, low-carbon products, and energy efficiency.

Promoting women within corporations, strengthening Diversity & Inclusion and CSR initiatives all go a long way towards redirecting the needle to North on the moral compass. And this can make a seismic shift in the way the climate crisis is redressed.

The collective will of the right people in business can create momentum around the actions needed to tackle climate change. It has been said that women are better at articulating and activating purpose. Women leaders are often perceived as role models and mentors to other women and girls. The presence of women in the boardroom creates a cascade effect: women break down stereotypes, motivate young women to pursue careers in business, and STEM subjects and help to dissolve the wage gap between men and women.  Economically this paves the way for more inclusive workforces and having many perspectives is fast-becoming an essential requirement for board effectiveness. In Japan for example, representation of women at C-suite level stands at 12%, a rate that the government is endeavoring to revise upwards: the goal is 30% by 2030, and this is being termed a shift from Abenomics to Womenomics.

Separately, with “birthstrikers” on the rise, that is, more women choosing not to have children specifically because of the climate crisis, and the fear of what their children will inherit, women are more motivated than ever to become prime advocates for combating climate change and for advancing sustainable economies.

In China for example, as far back as Chairman Mao’s era, he said at one point that “women hold up half the sky” so there was staunch recognition in China even between the 40s-70s that women and women’s capabilities should have a seat at the table.


There is a clear correlation between upticks in pollution levels and the impact on mental health.

But it’s good to contextualise this in relatable ways. When we think about climate, we think about severe weather, big storms or huge wildfires … but let’s consider more widespread and ongoing problems that are rarely attributed to the climate crisis. There has been a recent study which has shown that people living in places with higher levels of particle pollution were twice as likely to experience mental health problems as those in the least polluted areas.

Of course, there are variables such as genetics (pre-existing conditions) and childhood experiences. However, in a study that was conducted in London over five years, small increases in air pollution were linked to a rise in depression. Therefore mitigating pollution levels not only helps the environment and our air quality, but seemingly it might also likely reduce our mental health issues.


Iberian cats have managed to come back from the brink of extinction. A 20 year project which concluded this October, has seen their numbers rise from 94 in 2002, to 855 this year. This shows us that conservation and reintroduction efforts can completely reverse the cycle of extinction.

Ten years ago the Iberian lynx was nearing extinction but now, imaginative conservation initiatives have brought hunters, farmers and the tourist industry together, and the lynx numbers have undergone a transformational change. There has consequently been a massive resurgence. Earlier I mentioned that by solving the climate crisis we are solving myriad problems and I relayed how prioritising gender equality could help. Here, the reemergence of the cats was in part attributable to a tourist attraction which generated increased employment – another global malaise that needs to be addressed and resolved especially now with Covid having decimated so many industries. It is interesting to note that Lynx-spotting was part of the strategy used in regenerating this species. It became a tourist attraction in Andalusia and it created full-time jobs, in that the forestry work it created led to much-needed work for hundreds of small businesses in the area.

The same is true with wild bison. With the UK’s imaginative re-wilding efforts, bison are now roaming free in Britain for the first time in decades. These mammoth herbivores are ‘ecosystem engineers’, and are viewed as cornerstones in increasing biodiversity and in restoring the natural ecological balance by felling trees, eating bark and grazing.

In Russia for example, the species’ populations for Siberian Tigers and Blakiston’s fish Owls, have diminished significantly on account of deforestation, shrinking habitats and for the latter, dwindling fish stocks. These enigmatic owls are endangered and have been the subject of conservation efforts but renewed innovation and a call to action are needed to protect both species.


On the topic of imagination, noteworthy author, Philip Pullman recently said that “the way we educate children greatly discounts the imagination and over-emphasises a culture of getting things right. He said that “No book, poem or piece of art or symphony was reasoned into existence. We need to stop measuring things in a quantitative way.”

If the climate crisis is the tragic legacy we seem to be leaving behind, we have to work now to get intergenerational justice for our children and grandchildren before it’s too late. And this requires quick action and imagination. The way in which children are educated – with schools globally implementing programmes that focus on reducing, reusing and recycling – could we extend this into other arenas of our lives to educate and raise awareness?

Sharp social critiques mingled with clever and carefully crafted banter for the theatre of climate change, could go a long way towards reaching a mass audience and driving the message home in a light-hearted but effective way.

This new genre of comedy called climate change comedy has already brought the urgency to the masses through comedy and art. A new narrative of hope spliced with irony makes the problem more of a collective challenge and a shared experience, which in turn galvanises people into action.


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