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Opportunities for Individual Action in the Wake of COP26

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

With COP26 now behind us, we are taking time to reflect on the proceedings of the summit and what the future holds for global climate action. We feel that one of the key topics that may be lost in these broader, high-level conversations is how we as individuals fit into the picture of climate action and what we can do within our lives to make a difference.

An important underpinning of COP26 is the focus on responsibility, commitment and that the future actions of the participating countries are as strong as their words during the conference. While the solutions and changes needed to address the threat posed by climate change certainly require actions and input from the world’s business and political leaders, it is important to remember the significance of individual actions and commitments as well. However, it might be hard to imagine how each of us as individuals can make any kind of meaningful contribution towards a brighter future.

Considerations such as recycling and reducing waste, reducing unnecessary travel and using public transportation, being more conscious of the food we consume and where we purchase it from, amongst others, are all important actions in more ways than you may think. Yes, they are important in the sense of reducing our carbon impacts, because every action matters. Every fraction of a degree of warming we can prevent helps. But these actions can also have cascading co-benefits. For example, they can boost our feelings of agency so we feel more motivated to take further action. They can help us learn about the issues, which might give us the confidence to reach out to our local political leaders and share our concerns. It can help us meet new people and organizations, and consider spending some of our time volunteering to support them. It can move us past focusing only on ourselves to thinking about our neighbours and acting on behalf of our local communities.

In short, taking individual action can give us the motivation and confidence to spring forward toward more community and collective efforts. When it comes to collective action, there is no shortage of organizations in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond that provide the opportunity to get involved. Here are a few ideas:

  1. The Toronto Climate Action Network is a great place to start connecting with people and projects around climate action. Through their website, you can learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and access their extensive resource page to learn more about how you can be involved with your community to work towards climate action.

  2. The Toronto Environmental Alliance has put together a guide on how individuals in the GTA can make a deputation to City Council Committees and provide City Councillors with your thoughts, concerns and ideas around climate change.

  3. The David Suzuki Foundation is collecting signatures as part of a petition to the leaders of the largest federal parties in Canada, which demands a commitment to more comprehensive and significant climate action, as well as ensuring a just transition from fossil fuels. They have created a template you can use as part of filling out the petition, but we encourage everyone to add their own thoughts and input into their submissions.

  4. Indigenous Climate Action is an indigenous-led organization that aims to support Indigenous communities in leading climate action and climate justice efforts across Canada. Check out their resources and tools and learn how you can take action in other ways.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and even intimidated after the COP26 summit, it can be really hard to move forward. You don’t have to go through these emotions alone. At CCTO, we strive to help individuals address their anxiety, distress and other reactions toward climate change. Our six-week session program has helped people overcome difficult emotions related to climate change, commit to tangible actions to reduce their carbon footprint and get involved in collective action. Click here to learn more about our six-week sessions and how CCTO can support you in your journey of climate action.

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