Climate Champion Ayisha Siddiqa co-founded both Fossil Free University and PollutersOut! Plus Leonardo DiCaprio and The Most Important Comic Book On Earth.
DiCaprio Touts “The Most Important Comic Book On Earth”, Climate Champ Ayisha Siddiqa, Fossil Free University, PollutersOut!
CLIMATE CHAMPION, AYISHA SIDDIQA
In a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, climate champion, Ayisha Siddiqa said, “The reason why we have the 1.5 degree threshold in the Paris climate agreement is because island nations stepped up and demanded it. Diversity changed legislation. Diversity of voices, of people of color, races, genders—it gives us nuance and deeper understanding. “
She went on to lament the lack of diversity at the UN, saying, “I think it is mind-boggling that diversity is lacking at the United Nations, a global gathering of nations. When I am with Indigenous, Black, and brown communities, I see a glimmer of hope. Because their lives and the lives of the generations that came before them have all been about protecting Earth.”
Siddiqa is co-founder of both PollutersOut!, a youth-led organization dedicated to removing big polluters from all events and negotiations related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), aka the UN climate treaty She’s also co-founder of Fossil Free University– a 12 week training course for climate justice activists around the world who want to channel the power of the youth movement to the source of the climate crisis.
When asked in an interview by Canary Media, the Pakistani-American said no one moment motivated her to become a climate champion. It was more a series of observations and revelations. She talked about the devastating effects toxic chemicals leaching into the water in Pakistan, and the death it caused. She described the extreme heat of the Thar and Cholistan deserts, and how malaria is again overtaking Pakistan, all due to climate change.
Some of you listeners may even recognize her from a TED.Countdown event. In it Lauren MacDonald called out the CEO of Shell live, onstage. Then Siddiqa and other climate activists shared a walkout, which “broke the internet.”
LET’S GET POLLUTERSOUT!
For years world leaders and corporations have known of the crisis that we’re facing, yet they continue to stall action, searching for loopholes instead of real solutions. After seeing the countless youth and indigenous activists removed from cop25, several young people realized that this was the product of the fossil fuel industry and its influence.
So PollutersOut was founded in 2019, co-founded by Ayisha Siddiqa. Since its inception the group has taken on many “actions.” An example of one of their more recent actions was an online petition demanding that Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), refuse to accept funding from fossil fuel corporations for COP26.
They may have just been wildly successful. BP was initially meant to be a sponsor at COP26, and have a speaking role, but it was canceled because BP’s goals did not align with net-zero plans. PollutersOut co-founder Ayisha Saddiqa attributes that win to youth activism like PollutersOut!
Other actions included a Day of Action and #Defend the Defenders, an 8-week campaign highlighting indigenous peoples and other environmental defenders globally who are oppressed by governments and multinational corporations for protecting their lands.
Why does PollutersOut matter to us? Because of their three simple demands:
- Make the UN reject big polluter sponsorship at all future COPs
- Reject false solutions—particularly Article 6 of the Paris Agreement—while also advancing people-led climate solutions
- Advance a “Conflict of Interest” policy at the international, national and sub-national levels to get polluters out while also making big polluters pay reparations for their historic climate harm.
LET’S ALL ATTEND FOSSIL FREE UNIVERSITY
There are a lot of offerings these days for folks looking to become organized, educated climate activists. One such that springs to mind is The Climate Reality Project, the organization started by former U.S. vice president Al Gore. Another one that springs to mind is Fossil Free University. And there’s no waitlist to get in. And it’s free.
FFU is a 12 week training course for climate justice activists around the world who want to channel the power of the youth movement to the source of the climate crisis. Or, as their website claims, “A school of thought and a school for action. Action to get polluters out of government, out of indigenous lands, out of our future, out of our lives!
The goal of FFU is for graduates to gain a new understanding, new skills and a new network of mentors and colleagues to be effective “Fossil Freedom Fighters” for the long fight ahead.
Created by pollutersout, an international coalition of youth activists demanding that “polluters get out of indigenous lands, world governments, and discussions at COP 26.” They wanted to use their time during the COVID-19 pandemic to learn what they can’t learn in school: how to confront the climate crisis by confronting fossil fuel corporations and getting them out of the way.
FFU faculty include Bobby Peek of groundwork, a nonprofit EJ and development org. out of South Africa; Bill McKibben of 350.org; Annie Leonard of GreenPeace, Juliana Bravo of EarthRights International, and other climate action luminaries.
Nine topics are covered over the course of 12 weeks. According to the website, one watches the videos, does the readings and then connects with the folks at FFU. Check it out at FossilFreeUniversity.org, and for more information about organizations associated with it, click on the links in the Deeper Dive section of this story at theclimate.org/episodes.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO AND THE MOST IMPORTANT COMIC BOOK ON EARTH
I think we all remember where we were when Hollywood heavyweight/climate champion Leonardo DiCaprio breezed through COP26. His brief appearance made headlines around the world. What should have, but didn’t resound throughout the press was a single snapshot of him with film producer Paul Goodenough, while Leo held up, The Most Important Comic Book on Earth: Stories to Save the World!
What is this comic book and why does it matter to us?
According to its publisher, Penguin/Random House books, The Most Important Comic Book On Earth is a global collaboration for planetary change, bringing together a diverse team of 300 leading environmentalists, artists, authors, actors, filmmakers, musicians, and more to present over 120 stories to save the world.
Or as editor Paul Goodenough writes, it’s “an anthology dedicated to saving as many species from extinction as humanly possible.” Contributors include the maker of “War and Peas,” David Mack, Tula Lotay, Ricky Gervais, George Monbiot, Jane Goodall, Brian Azzarello and many more.