When we think about the future, we often envision our children, grandchildren, and future generations. We expect them to thrive, cherishing the planet just as we did and standing on our shoulders as they reach their dreams. But for them to stand tall and strong, we must give them a foundation to stand upon. This foundation is currently under threat under the rapidly escalating climate change crisis. Climate change is not just a distant, abstract concept. It is actual and present, and its effects are increasingly pervasive. Droughts, heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, wildfires – the harbingers of a warming planet are growing in frequency and intensity. These cataclysmic events severely threaten our society, economy, and the natural environment.
Our actions today shape tomorrow’s climate reality, and the youth will inherit this reality. They are the ones who will be impacted the most by climate change if we do not take drastic and immediate action to curb global warming. Already, we see its impacts affecting them, from schools closing due to hazardous air quality to the mental stress and anxiety about their future on a warming planet. But today’s youth aren’t just sitting idle, waiting for the world to act. Around the world, young people are rising to the challenge, leading climate strikes, mobilizing their communities, lobbying their representatives, and even suing governments to protect their right to a healthy environment. Greta Thunberg, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Autumn Peltier, and Isra Hirsi have emerged as leading voices calling for systemic change. They embody youth’s power, passion, and potential to drive climate action. However, they cannot fight this battle alone. They need our support. They need resources, mentorship, platforms, and allies. As adults, parents, grandparents, and mentors, we must stand by them, amplifying their voices, supporting their causes, and creating spaces for them to thrive and effect change.
Activism plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change for several reasons.
1. Raising Awareness: Despite the growing evidence and scientific consensus about climate change, there still needs to be greater understanding and acknowledgement of its severity and urgency among population segments. Activism educates the public about the realities of climate change, debunking myths and misinformation and emphasizing the need for immediate action.
2. Shaping Policy: Activists lobby governments and other decision-making bodies to implement, enforce, and strengthen policies to reduce emissions and promote sustainable practices. With such pressure, political will to address climate change may be sufficient, particularly given the short-term political cycles compared to the long-term nature of climate change impacts.
3. Driving Corporate Change: Activism also targets businesses, pushing them to adopt more sustainable operations and practices. This can include advocating for the divestment from fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy, and ensuring transparency and accountability in corporate environmental impact.
4. Building Communities and Movements: Climate change is a global issue that requires collective action. Activism brings people together, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose. It inspires and mobilizes individuals to act in their own lives, amplifying the impact on a broader scale.
5. Giving a Voice to the Vulnerable: Climate change impacts the most vulnerable populations the most, including indigenous communities, people in developing nations, and future generations. Activists play a crucial role in giving these populations a voice, ensuring their experiences and needs are considered.
6. Promoting Social and Environmental Justice: Climate change is an environmental and social justice issue. Activists highlight the intersectionality of climate change with other social problems, promoting a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.
Activism is thus necessary in the fight against climate change. It catalyzes change, a driver of action, and a beacon of hope, resilience, and solidarity in confronting one of the most significant challenges of our time.
This is where charities focused on empowering youth in the climate movement play a pivotal role. These organizations work on the frontlines, fostering environmental stewardship among young people and providing them with resources, platforms, and skills to become climate leaders. By supporting these charities, we’re investing in our future climate leaders, bolstering the climate movement, and saying to the youth – we hear you, stand by you, and believe in you. So, let’s delve into some of these organizations, their work, and how your contribution can make a real difference in empowering youth to take action on climate change.
This is not just about securing a more sustainable future; it’s about creating a present where our young people feel heard, supported, and empowered to make a difference. And in doing so, we give them more than just a healthier planet; we provide them with hope, courage, and the belief that they can shape their future for the better.
Several Canadian organizations are doing exceptional work in the field of climate activism. Here are ten to consider donating to:
1. Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-Rac Canada): It is a coalition of more than 100 organizations across Canada that care about climate change. They work to promote the urgency for serious action on climate change through policy and public engagement. Website: [https://climateactionnetwork.ca/](https://climateactionnetwork.ca/)
2. Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC): CYCC is a united front of youth from across Canada tackling humanity’s biggest challenge. They empower young people to take action on climate change. Website: [http://www.ourclimate.ca/](http://www.ourclimate.ca/)
3. David Suzuki Foundation: While not exclusively a youth organization, the David Suzuki Foundation does significant work in climate activism and has several initiatives to mobilize young people. Website: [https://davidsuzuki.org/](https://davidsuzuki.org/)
4. 350 Canada: Part of the global 350 movement, 350 Canada works at the grassroots level to reduce CO2 levels to below 350 ppm, a safe level for the planet. Website: [https://350canada.org/](https://350canada.org/)
5. Environmental Defense Canada: This charity challenges change in government, business, and people to ensure a healthier life. They have a strong focus on climate change advocacy. Website: [https://environmentaldefence.ca/](https://environmentaldefence.ca/)
6. Ecology Action Centre: Based in Halifax, this member-based organization demonstrates leadership on critical environmental issues, from biodiversity protection to environmental justice. Website: [https://ecologyaction.ca/](https://ecologyaction.ca/)
7. Toronto Environmental Alliance: This group advocates for green policy in Toronto, focusing on climate change, waste reduction, toxic chemicals, and green economic development. Website: [https://www.torontoenvironment.org/](https://www.torontoenvironment.org/)
8. Stand.Earth: Stand.Earth challenges corporations and governments to behave responsibly. They have run several successful campaigns, including pushing Starbucks to create a recyclable cup and challenging the expansion of oil sands pipelines. Website: [https://www.stand.earth/](https://www.stand.earth/)
9. Pembina Institute: An influential policy advocate, the Pembina Institute provides leadership in sustainable energy through research, education, consulting, and advocacy. Website: [https://www.pembina.org/](https://www.pembina.org/)
10. Climate Reality Project Canada: This branch of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project works to transform climate awareness into action, promoting policies for a just transition to a clean energy economy. Website: [https://climatereality.ca/](https://climatereality.ca/)
These organizations range from grassroots activists to policy advocates, all doing their part to address climate change. By supporting these organizations, we can help them continue their vital work, expand their reach, and drive more significant change.
Climate Activism in the USA: A Nation Awakened
The United States, as one of the world’s most significant carbon emitters, has historically faced scrutiny for its actions (and inactions) concerning climate change. The country maintained a contentious relationship with global climate initiatives for many years, notably the Paris Agreement. However, it would be an oversight to equate government policy with the broader sentiment in the country. From grassroots movements to corporate leadership, many Americans have championed the cause of climate activism.
The birth of the modern environmental movement in the USA can be traced back to the 1960s and 70s, catalyzed by events such as the Santa Barbara oil spill and publications like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” Over time, this movement evolved and expanded, now encompassing the urgent call to address global climate change.
In recent years, the climate activism scene in the U.S. has surged, driven by increased climate-related catastrophes, a growing understanding of the implications of global warming, and an urgent sense of the narrowing window to mitigate the worst of its impacts. Youth movements, notably the Sunrise Movement and the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, embody this momentum, galvanizing masses, organizing strikes, and demanding action. Their activism, alongside movements such as the Indigenous-led fight against pipelines, has spotlighted environmental justice and brought it to the forefront of the national discourse.
Moreover, non-governmental entities in the U.S. have been filling in the gaps left by fluctuating federal policies. States, cities, and corporations have taken it upon themselves to honour the commitments of the Paris Agreement, even when national leadership wavered. These subnational efforts, championed by coalitions like “We Are Still In,” reflect the nation’s diverse and decentralized approach to climate activism.
With an administration now keen on climate action, the nation seems poised to regain its position as a leader in fighting climate change. However, the driving force remains the people — grassroots activists, community leaders, and everyday citizens committed to securing a sustainable future for generations.
10 U.S. Charities Championing Climate Activism:
1. Sunrise Movement: A youth-led movement pushing for serious climate solutions and the Green New Deal, prioritizing job creation and justice. Website: [https://www.sunrisemovement.org/](https://www.sunrisemovement.org/)
2. 350.org: Focusing on grassroots organizing, this global network aims to end the use of fossil fuels and support renewable energy. Website: [https://350.org/](https://350.org/)
3. Earthjustice: This legal organization champions the right to a healthy environment, representing clients free of charge in pressing environmental cases. Website: [https://earthjustice.org/](https://earthjustice.org/)
4. Climate Reality Project: Founded by former Vice President Al Gore, this group educates the public about the climate crisis and advocates for change. Website: [https://www.climaterealityproject.org/](https://www.climaterealityproject.org/)
5. Rainforest Action Network: This group campaigns for natural systems that sustain life. They have a strong focus on combating climate change and challenging corporate practices. Website: [https://www.ran.org/](https://www.ran.org/)
6. Sierra Club: One of the oldest environmental organizations, Sierra Club uses grassroots efforts to protect millions of acres of wilderness and influence environmental policy. Website: [https://www.sierraclub.org/](https://www.sierraclub.org/)
7. Greenpeace USA: Part of a global network, Greenpeace USA emphasizes direct action, policy advocacy, and public education to address climate change. Website: [https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/](https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/)
8. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): With a team of scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates, NRDC seeks sustainable environmental policies. Website: [https://www.nrdc.org/](https://www.nrdc.org/)
9. Indigenous Environmental Network: Connecting indigenous communities, this organization combats environmental injustices, like the adverse impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples. Website: [https://www.ienearth.org/](https://www.ienearth.org/)
10. Union of Concerned Scientists: This group uses science to address global problems, including advocating for cleaner technologies and climate-friendly policies. Website: [https://www.ucsusa.org/](https://www.ucsusa.org/)
These organizations, with their diverse tactics and strategies, exemplify the broad scope of climate activism in the United States. Supporting them amplifies their voices and furthers their vital missions.
In North America, the pulse of climate activism resonates strongly, echoing from grassroots movements in local communities to expansive campaigns on national stages. These activist endeavours testify to the continent’s increasing awareness and urgency regarding the climate crisis. However, while activism is pivotal in catalyzing change, awakening societal consciousness, and challenging complacency, it alone is not the panacea. Action — comprehensive policies, corporate responsibility, technological innovations, and individual commitments — is paramount. We must remember that activism is the spark, but sustained, multifaceted efforts are needed to fan the flames of transformative change. As we champion the causes we believe in, we must also roll up our sleeves and collaborate across sectors and borders to turn our aspirations into tangible, lasting solutions.