by Adriana Spence, Creative Development Officer, Global Action Plan

Even with a U.S election campaign that embodies the stuff of environmental nightmares, let’s not forget our power as global thinkers and doers.

Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump elected the 45th President of the United States of America next Tuesday, one thing is certain; the repercussions will be felt worldwide.

For the rest of us, we can only lament our lack of representation in an election that will have global implications. For months, we have scrutinised the headlines, recoiled, and commiserated together - like a great unfolding of a television drama with hammy actors and a menacing narrative throughout, this election has had us glued to our seats. I am sure that I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed and unable to change our current political situation.

Working for an environmental behaviour change charity based in the UK, it is of tantamount importance for my colleagues and I to see the U.S leading progressive, preventative environmental and climate change policy. Clinton is the only major candidate to have put forward a multifaceted environmental manifesto – Trump’s energy policy offers instead, “to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming program [sic]”*. Simply put, a future with Trump in power threatens the progress that so many have worked hard to achieve in the fight against climate change.

So, how can we strive for a sustainable life when there is potential for decades of work protecting our environment to be undone in a matter of seconds?

More than ever, it is at times like these that we need to channel our energy into action. We don’t need to wait for politicians to get behind environmental policies to make inspiring things happen ourselves.

There are so many ways each of us can take action: from choosing to eat local, seasonal, meat-free grub, to lobbying your local MP about poor air quality in your area; from taking a train instead of a plane, to volunteering your time and/or money to a great environmental cause, there are many things we all can do.

At Global Action Plan, we are all about channelling what motivates people to take action without waiting for permission from government. Big problems can have bite-size solutions – particularly when you can inspire your peers to take action too.

Inspiration comes from the Spanish students taking part in our school Water Explorers programme, who noticed that their families were putting hot oil down the drain after cooking; this contaminates local water and requires hugely energy-intensive treatment to separate the oil from the water again. They persuaded their local council to set up an oil collection point for families in the area to recycle used cooking oil. After showing their community what to do and how to use the facility, the Water Explorers have seen oil recycling shoot up, and local water has never been so oil-free.

So, despite the doom and gloom of this U.S election cycle, it is important to take a step back and focus on where we want to get to and what we can each do to get there. Because regardless of a Clinton or Trump win on Tuesday, you and I can do big things too.

 

*Trump, D. (2016) Speech on An America First Energy Plan, May 26th, 2016:  https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/an-america-first-energy-plan