As the year 2018 is drawing to a close, it’s an excellent time to reflect on what has been going on in the world, and specifically in the climate change space.
2018 has seen both leadership that is frankly just bad but also positive that has been inspiring.
The good and the bad
A recent Coaching for Leaders podcast episode (384: Your Attitude Defines Your Altitude) reminded me just what good leadership looks like.
A leader inspires others and helps them to see their full potential, something that people have not yet necessarily recognised in themselves.
It fits so well with the book I am reading at the moment, Michelle Obama’s Becoming that has also given me so many ideas what good leadership looks like.
Yet, recent reports from USA for example note that people in America are increasingly coming to therapy to discuss the anxiety that president Trump is causing to them.
For anyone even remotely understanding leadership, if your actions are causing people to seek therapy, that is a sign of ultimate leadership failure.
In Australia, we are still seeing the battle of the wills on climate change even as heatwaves score the country with new temperature records being broken all across the country.
I am becoming more and more convinced that the battle is no longer with or about the science but about political will.
Yet, there has been also positive signs that new forms of leadership are emerging, and that the issue of climate change is more and more recognised now also by those who vote.
Encouraging signs of climate leadership for 2019
Youth climate leadership: There are increasingly more and more young people like Greta Thunberg who remind us that each of us can and has the ability to act and demand for climate actions.
Greta has started a worldwide movement with her school strikes in a way that lets other people to relate; her intention to raise climate awareness is a good example of creating a trend that is easy to follow.
Both Twitter and Instagram are full of examples from around the world of other people who have adopted Greta’s call for climate action and are showing their policy- and decision-makers that climate action is an emerging strongly supported issue amongst their constituents.
We are already seeing signs that climate change is a policy issue that increasingly voters want action for.
Once this begins to impact on politicians’ ability to stay in power, we are likely to see quite a lot of campaign talk and promises on strong climate action.
The issue then for the voters is to make sure that they don’t just buy campaign promises but also hold their politicians accountable to follow through on such actions.
Elections with a focus on climate change: Climate change is becoming such a talked about issue that countries like Finland are now dubbing their next parliamentary 2019 elections as “climate elections”.
This means that many of the candidates are starting to understand how important it is for countries to have solid plans in place how to reduce emissions but also how to adapt to climate change.
In Finland, I have been particularly encouraged by the candidature announcement of Oras Tynkkynen who, at the age of 41, is again running for parliament as a member of the Green Party.
Oras has an incredible political background of having been previously in the parliament 13 years, has such depth of understanding anything climate related having been active in climate issues since he was 16.
Finding a candidate who understands the political system and how it works, has sound knowledge of the array of climate related policy choices available, and can also evaluate which of those choices make sense in a country context, is very rare.
Given the urgency of the issue, and the related policy choices that need to be made, I am hoping that the next elections will also see the creation of a post that of Climate Change Minister in Finland.
Adapting to climate change is not an issue anymore just for small island states but it will become a reality for each country, both developing and developed.
We need strong climate leadership in this space so that all countries can meet the Paris Agreement while also ensuring that transitions towards more sustainable and climate-aware societies are just.
These few examples are what makes me hopeful that 2019 is the year of increasing good leadership.
What 2019 looks like for me
2019 is gearing up to be a busy year for me.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6thAssessment Report kicks in already in January when we meet to discuss the assessment and start planning the work ahead.
I am super excited to be involved and especially for our chapter (15 Small Islands) as we have a great team in place.
2019 will also be the 1styear of my DECRA grant where I am examining the robustness of the generally held assumptions about effective climate adaptation.
This will involve also hiring a PhD student for the project (look out for the announcement in early 2019) who would investigate in particular future-oriented adaptation decision-making processes.
2019 is also the first year of WonderWomen as we kickstart our sessions to discuss career development, branding and how to create impact and influence.
And amongst everything, my priority is being a mother and making sure that my son keeps being his happy lively self.
I have also decided to keep going with this blog on weekly basis.
I was once told that academics should only write blogs on ideas they have published in scientific journals; that our focus should be on writing scientific papers that we then explain to the public via blogs.
However, I strongly disagree with this.
In many ways I live and breath climate adaptation, and the blog is my attempt to share what I find interesting and summarise news from the circles and networks that I move in (don’t worry, I’ll also write papers).
I hope that those of you who read my blog have found some of these insights useful.
Going forward to 2019, I would love to hear from you, in whatever way or form, which of my writings do resonate with you.
I also very much welcome comments on things I can improve or topics/angles that I have not covered well enough.
And lastly, message from my partner-in-crime:
That, my friends, is a wrap up for 2018.