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This article is part of our Climate Justice collection, which is designed to help donors learn more about the issue and take impactful action.
Climate change is real, climate change is a result of human activities, climate change will disproportionately impact the world’s poorest, and climate change cannot be avoided entirely. At best, things will be bad; at worst, things will be really, really bad. Most likely, things will be somewhere in between (which is still really bad).
However, there’s still plenty of hope to be had. We can’t stop climate change entirely, but with global collective action, we can reduce the extent of warming, and we can be prepared for what is to come.
Strategies to address the effects of climate change generally fall into two categories: climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation.
Climate change mitigation refers to actions that reduce the amount that the world is likely to warm, usually through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or the sequestration of existing atmospheric CO2. Mitigation strategies include replacing fossil fuel power plants with renewable energy sources, electrifying and decarbonizing transportation, afforestation, and reducing the climate-intensiveness of agriculture and production.
Climate change adaptation, on the other hand, is about preparing populations, ecosystems, and infrastructure for effects of climate change that are inevitable or highly likely, such as rising temperatures and sea level rises. Adaptation measures include the construction of seawalls, planned relocation, natural disaster preparedness strategies, investing in power grid stability, and increasing urban vegetation to counteract rising temperatures.
Both mitigation and adaptation strategies are critical components of a global response to our warming planet, and both require funding. But a third part of addressing climate change is climate activism: raising awareness, sparking interest, educating our population, communicating with business leaders and policymakers, and making things happen.
Climate justice intersects with all three of these things: it is critical that responses to and discussions on climate change place equity at their center. Climate mitigation must be undertaken in ways that address inequality and inequity rather than perpetuate it, and climate adaptation must ensure that all populations receive adequate protection, rather than only those who can afford it.
The longer that meaningful climate action is delayed, the more difficult it will be to address it, and the more harm it will do. But although it's too late to stop climate change entirely, we can still reduce the amount our planet warms - and we can reduce the amount of damage it inflicts.
View the rest of the Climate Justice collection to learn more and find out how you can help.
By Reese O'Craven, Editorial Intern at Giving Compass.