I founded It Must Be NOW on Earth Day 2016 in Switzerland, with the support of a hotelier husband and a group of inspired individuals, as a legacy project with purpose to help the hotel industry we love to thrive, by advancing rigorous sustainability to accelerate to Climate Positive. We soon learned that few hotel businesses prioritized purpose and many ‘talked the sustainability talk’ but delayed in walking it, and government regulations did not demand urgent action, accountability and transparency. The going is tough and it takes purpose and tenacity – a fierce blend of determination, persistence and grid – to steadfastly focus long-term.
For the activists at heart with purpose, this tenacity means the difference between failure and success, and from just doing alright to thriving. Two of the most inspiring and fiercely determined movements that courageously communicate with candor and shines a glaring light on demanding climate issues are from the very young and the very old.
Fridays For Future is “youth-led” and high-profile movement that began in 2018, after a 15-year-old Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. Today, Fridays For Future protests are in 7,500 cities, engaging +14,000,000 people and known worldwide.
The lesser known ‘old-led’ movement in terms of membership age is KlimaSeniorinnen (Climate Seniors) Switzerland. It was started in 2016 by 150 inspiring senior women with an average age of 73 years who boldly sued the Swiss Federal Council to protect their fundamental right to life, for themselves, their grandchildren, and future generations. It was dismissed twice, but instead of giving up, they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. On March 29, 2023, a public hearing of the climate lawsuit was heard before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in front of 17 judges of the ECtHR and is convened in exceptional cases. Its verdicts cannot be appealed.
KlimaSeniorinnen complained that Switzerland has failed to set climate targets that are in line with international climate law and the best available scientific evidence. It has failed to meet its target of reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. With the NO vote on the Federal Act on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (CO2 Act) in June 2021, Switzerland has no national climate target at all beyond 2021. They complained that the federal government is violating the Federal Constitution (precautionary principle and right to life) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because a warming of more than 1.5°C is very likely to lead to a “dangerous anthropogenic disturbance of the climate system” and their health.
KlimaSeniorinnen called for an independent judicial review of climate policy with the goal for Switzerland to fulfill its duties of protection towards senior women citizens, to pursue a climate target that meets the requirement of preventing a dangerous disruption of the climate system, for more comprehensive measures to be adapted and better implementation of the measures already adopted.
KlimaSeniorinnen has reframed climate change as a health issue concerning our mothers, our grandmothers, and our great grandmothers. Global warming is indisputably leading to climate emergencies, more extreme weather, and frequent intense heat waves. It affects elderly people more due to health impairments and mortality are particularly high. To increase the chance of success in the lawsuit, the focus is on the proven impact on older women.
It will ultimately benefit the health of everyone we care about – our families, our children and our friends.
BE BOLD AND ACT
Taking bold climate action is vital to increase our hope for the future.
Activism with heart and purpose creates a positive feedback loop that can empower and motivate other people to act. It can encourage others to address issues in their community and even drive policy change. It can inspire bystanders who identify with protesters to increase their belief in their own power to drive social change. It can increase environmental awareness and encourage change through altering people’s voting habits.
In countries where politicians are elected based on public opinion, activism can also help achieve policy change if it is already under public discussion, especially if protesters have support from politicians.
In many countries, civilians and organizations are appealing to the judiciary because decision-makers in government and businesses are not doing enough to limit global warming to the safest possible level, and because everything else has been of no use and fundamental rights are directly threatened.
STAND FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
As I turned 64 years this April, I qualified and join KlimaSeniorinnen Switzerland, and I feel honored to stand in solidarity and support the climate lawsuit for our right to life.
The eligibility criteria is 64+ years, female and a resident of Switzerland.
Register at this link: https://www.klimaseniorinnen.ch/mitmachen/ich-will-mitglied-werden
If you do not meet the eligibility criteria, everyone is welcome to register as a supporter here: https://www.klimaseniorinnen.ch/unterstuetzen