The idea of prioritising climate action may feel like one task too many right now. But the climate crisis isn’t a remote event affecting polar bears and future generations – we are already beginning to see more extreme weather, fires and floods around the world. The time is now. And English language teaching must act and help address climate change.
What’s more, the current upheaval gives us an opportunity to shape what comes next. We don’t want to ‘go back to normal’ if it led us into environmental destruction, a pandemic and climate crisis.
Instead we can seize this moment of change to build new ways of working and living that are sustainable, fairer and safer for everyone.
2020 – a historic moment and an opportunity
Covid-19 has badly hurt UK ELT, taken far too many lives and many fear for their jobs and homes. But it has also shown us we that we can dramatically change how we work, relax and travel to save lives and protect our communities. It may have even given us a glimpse of the way forward.
We have seen the inequalities and suffering we want to avoid; realised the essential services, from shop workers to bus drivers to nurses, that we must strengthen and support; we have glimpsed roads turned in to safe spaces for exercise and play; been delighted by the wildlife wandering back into our quieter world (the Llandudno goats were a favourite!); and covid has reminded us of our vulnerability to natural disasters.
Those who have been lucky enough to be able to enjoy time off through furlough or mothballed businesses, had the opportunity to reflect on life’s direction and priorities. To imagine a better future with more free time, less travel, more flexible working and slower living.
Now we have a better idea of what we have to lose and to gain. And we have seen the change we are capable of. So let’s take action to create a better world and help our industry come out of the Covid-19 crisis on the right side of history. The time is now.
Plus – many of the actions necessary to limit climate change will also help prevent the emergence and spread of diseases and novel viruses.
Business as usual means disaster
If you respond well to a deadline, this is about as hard as they come.
We are already seeing more extreme weather, water scarcity, forest fires, floods and heatwaves, we keep breaking temperature records and adding more names to the extinction list, and there is only more to come.
But you are here now! And we can prevent disaster if we make the changes an emergency demands and encourage our UK ELT colleagues to do the same. Take action now.
A growing movement
Awareness of global warming and the destruction of nature has grown massively over the past ten years.
And in the past few years we have seen Fridays for Future/ the Youth Strike for Climate grow from one to several million young people around the world; Extinction Rebellion’s civil disobedience and activism spread from the UK to 45 countries; and the EU and a number of other countries have declared a climate emergency.
It is time for UK ELT to join the movement en masse. We can cut our contribution to global warming, create a positive environmental impact, inspire other industries and demonstrate our environmental responsibility to a generation that recognises the importance of climate action and sustainability.
The problems we face are interconnected
Hundreds of thousands live in poverty, food bank use has increased by 74% in five years (and that’s before coronavirus), hate crimes have doubled, the NHS is struggling and the country is politically divided. Shouldn’t we address these problems first?
We absolutely must address these issues. And we must tackle them together with climate action.
When we talk about the effects of climate change, we are talking about disasters that hurt and endanger people. We want to protect each other from suffering, save people’s homes and livelihoods. And these goals cannot ignore inequalities and injustice. Especially when climate change disproportionately affects poor people, marginalised people and people of colour.
We need to look for multi-issue solutions and holistic system change to create a better, greener world for everyone.
We face many challenge and the time to address them is now. Take a look at our tips and green guides to help you begin (or continue!) improving your environmental impact. And please share your environmental activities, ideas and challenges with us on Twitter and Linked In – we must speak up and prioritise #GreenELT.