Dr. Katharine Hayhoe recently participated in the SPEED2ZERO event where she gave a talk titled “Using Data to Change People's Minds on Climate Change”. Watch a recording of that presentation.
And minds in Switzerland are changing - as Dr. Hayhoe reports “in June, Swiss voters approved a new climate bill to cut fossil fuel use and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Despite a well-funded opposition that spread false information on the costs and impacts of a clean energy transition, 59 percent of Swiss voters said yes.” In the same report, Dr. Hayhoe goes on to say this “victory is especially encouraging because it indicates a turning point in Swiss public opinion on climate change. Just two years ago, voters rejected an attempt to curb greenhouse gases. Political observers attribute the change to growing awareness of climate impacts, including the loss of a third of the country’s glaciers over the last two decades, and concerns about energy security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
But though minds are changing it is also the case that “Switzerland is warming 2 to 3 times faster than the global average. Summers are getting warmer, drier, and longer, with more extreme heat days and heatwaves. The freezing line is moving up the mountains, and although winter precipitation is increasing, much more of it is falling as rain and less as snow, according to MeteoSwiss.”
Swiss from all walks of life are taking action - and not just by voting. For example “over 2,000 older Swiss women are taking the country to the European Court of Human Rights because climate impacts, particularly extreme heat, disproportionately affect elderly people and women.” On a more individual level “there are options like bank accounts that plant a tree every time you spend 100 CHF, advise you on sustainable investments, or allow you to support youth climate initiatives; Klimaschule programs that engage students in sustainability and climate action; climate food initiatives that help people plan low-carbon meals and invite their friends and neighbours to participate; Swiss Climate Action that “engages people from all walks of life to identify and implement the climate solutions that will be effective in Switzerland”; and Citizen’s Climate Lobby chapters that help people work together to get good climate laws passed.”
You don’t have to travel to Switzerland to take a page from their playbook. What examples could you take to a local business or school system that might help you and your neighbours do better for the planet where you live?