Our story: How it all began
The 52 Climate Actions partnership formed in 2015 after the International Permaculture Convergence declaration to the Paris Climate Conference. Led by The Permaculture Association (Britain), nine organisations came together to promote permaculture based solutions to climate change:
Susie Poole, climate change thought leader.
ECOLISE (The European Network for Community-led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability)
We were later joined by ethical graphic design company Spiritlab.
We wanted to create a project that would:
help people understand their personal power in tackling climate change
show people the best responses to climate change
promote these solutions to a wide audience
inspire people to action to help them reduce their carbon footprint, adapt to climate change, and embrace a low carbon culture
be rooted in permaculture, a design system that aims to create sustainable human habitats by following nature's patterns.
Our work: The 52 actions
In 2017 we secured $100,000 of funding to create a website of actions to tackle climate change. 52 of the most effective climate actions that can be taken by individuals and communities in the Global North have been chosen.
It’s 52 actions because it’s one for each week of the year, and it’s a manageable number. We've chosen actions we think are both powerful and realistic for individuals and communities. A wide variety of actions have been selected and we’ve tried to ensure they are up-beat, positive, and fun. Inevitably some things have been missed out, but we hope we've got the best and most inspiring 52. You can discover many additional solutions at www.drawdown.org/solutions
The actions fall into three categories: those to reduce your carbon footprint (mitigation); those to help you cope with the effects of climate change (adaptation); and those that aim to change your mindset (thinking differently). To make the site easy to use, the 52 actions are divided into 16 themes such as ‘Love Trees’, ‘Travel Wisely’ and ‘Respect Food’. Each theme contains 8 actions. Most actions are included in two or three themes.
After the first 4 introductory actions (Actions 1-4), the remaining 48 actions are arranged in a more or less random order. They are NOT listed in order of priority or impact. The actions have all been chosen because they are potentially very powerful; the 'best' actions differ from person to person according to context.
Our goal: Changing the status quo
The 52 Climate Actions team believes climate change isn’t an isolated phenomenon, but a symptom of a broken relationship between humanity and nature. Responding to it isn’t about revolutionary new technologies or maintaining our current lifestyles using less carbon. It’s about redesigning our lives towards greater simplicity, stronger community, healthier lifestyles, more making and less buying.
It calls us beyond sustainability (simply maintaining the status quo) to regeneration (making things better). It offers multiple opportunities to address other crises: pollution, economic inequality, loss of biodiversity, breakdown of community, runaway greed etc.
We need to move away from endless economic growth, maximisation of profit and wasteful levels of material consumption and towards meeting the real needs of all people within planetary limits. We need an economy based on mutually beneficial relationships: between producers and consumers, within and among communities and people, and between the human and natural world. We need an economy that nurtures ecological and social value rather than turning everything into commodities for market exchange. Many of the actions presented here can be elements of this new, regenerative economy, starting at local scales and eventually becoming the basis of all enterprise and economic policy.
Strengthening community is also vital. People are more likely to follow through on an action if they commit to it together, while many actions such as composting and power generation are best conducted at community level. Whole communities will be affected by climate change, and almost all adaptation solutions need to be undertaken at a community level. We need to learn to rely on each other much more and be ready to offer and ask for help.
Individuals and communities also need to exert organised pressure on governments and businesses to change their policies and practices. For this reason, every action includes a Global (campaigning) action.
Our conviction: Individuals can make a real difference
By focusing on individual and community action, this project emphasises the power and responsibility we all have to take meaningful action on climate change. Of course, governments need to radically overhaul the policies, laws and financial structures that have led to climate change and businesses need to focus on generating environmental and social benefits rather than maximising profits at all costs. However, each and every one of us can, through daily choices in our shopping, eating, travelling and domestic energy use, take powerful action. In doing so, we not only take greater responsibility for our own lives, we also increase pressure for positive change by governments and businesses.
This is also true for adaptation. Governments can invest in adaptation measures and create more climate-resilient infrastructure. Whether this is effective and beneficial will ultimately come down to how people use it in their daily lives. Many of the most important adaptation actions arise from individual and community action tailored to local circumstances, with governments following, scaling up and creating enabling conditions where small communities have led the way.
Our next steps: Changing behaviour for Good
From July to November 2019 was the public launch, using the global network of our partners to reach as many new audiences as possible.
We would love to start the second phase, 'Changing Behaviour for Good', but this is based on securing new funding, which has not happened as yet. It will be focussed on experimenting with and learning from a broad international audience of users to see how we can maximise the impact of the project in creating real change. We have already piloted 'climate action training' in South Australia, and hope to develop and deliver a range of in-person and online climate action training for individuals and communities.
We also want to work with local and national governments to ensure the policy, legislative and budgetary changes necessary to enable and encourage actions at personal and community levels. Ultimately, we want to create a series of further websites; 52 Climate Actions for the Global South, 52 Climate Actions for Children, and 52 Climate Actions for Businesses.
Our needs: How you can help
We’d like to thank all the many amazing people who have assisted us in building this project so far.
There are two ways you can support the project:
1. Fundraising/donating. We want to create new resources and research the best ways to bring about real change. This includes creating 52 Climate Actions for the Global South, 52 Climate Actions for Children, and 52 Climate Actions for Businesses. Please donate to the project through the main partner, the Permaculture Association, if you can.
2. Spread the word. Use the social media icons in the footer to tell others about 52 Climate Actions and talk to your friends and family about it.