I’ve found this hard to write. Too much bad news and I fear you’ll switch off. Too much optimism and I’m not being honest.

But sugarcoating won’t solve this.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s most authoritative climate body – has just released a report calling for urgent action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. Based on 6000 scientific references, the report says the situation is now dire.

We must stop burning coal – urgently. As the world's biggest exporter of coal, what Australia does matters. For everyone.

That’s why we’re determined to make the next Australian election the climate election.

I’m a millennial. My generation will never know a time before climate damage. We are all in this together, living in an era that demands courage and action.

Right now, coal is literally cooking our planet. Fuelling bushfires in winter. Wildfires in the Arctic Circle, Greenland and Siberia. Blistering heatwaves in Tasmania, Tokyo and Montreal. Serious droughts and supercharged storms.

And it's devastating our beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are home to turtles, whales, dugongs and fish. Half a billion people globally depend on them for food and coastal protection.

This is ecosystem collapse, happening right before our eyes. A wakeup call for humanity, if ever there was one.

But climate catastrophe is not our destiny. We know how to stop this – we have the solutions, here, now.

We have clever people and the technology to quickly phase out coal and replace it with 100% clean energy from the sun and wind. We can create a country of flourishing, resilient communities and thriving nature. What we need is political courage and action.

You know what gives me courage? The dedicated and organised young people who introduced me to climate activism. Seeing millions of people across Australia – some active for decades and some just getting started – working together to change the status quo. The human capacity for creativity, ingenuity and cooperation. The impossible alternative.

Courage and action. Let's get on with it.

Here are four things you can do right now:

1. Talk to people about climate damage

Conversations are the most powerful way to break down barriers and motivate others to get involved. That’s why we’re aiming to have a million conversations about stopping climate damage before the next election. Together, we can make this the climate election so no Australian government can ever again delay, wreck or dismiss this issue.

If you don’t start the conversation, there might not be one. So talk to your friends and relatives over dinner. Talk to fellow commuters while you’re waiting for a bus. Talk to citizens in key electorates about why you’re concerned and ask them to be climate voters.

To scale up the number of people we can talk to, we've built a whizz-bang dialler so you can have conversations with voters across the country from your own mobile phone.

To get started, join the next national calling party webinar Find out how it all works and give it a try – then host your own calling party! (This toolkit steps you through how).

GET TALKING

2. Donate, donate, donate

The next few years will define our fate – so now’s the time for commitment, determination and generosity.

We must keep holding our elected representatives to account. Keep pushing for big, urgent, systemic change. Organise even more people into powerful communities to rebuild our world so it’s good for everyone.

We will only succeed when people everywhere step up and get involved. Campaigning to stop climate damage is a long-term effort. Will you commit to make a monthly gift of $15 to power this movement for the coming months?

DONATE

3. Call PM Scott Morrison

This week, the Morrison Government is under enormous global pressure to act. As Ban Ki-moon just said, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act.” All leaders.

With an election looming, Prime Minister Morrison also needs to feel enormous pressure from the Australian people. His government has dismissed the work of the world's best scientists. They seem not to understand what climate damage means.

Our leaders have a moral imperative to stop being part of the problem – and rapidly phase out coal, stop Adani’s mine, support communities and ramp up renewables.

Like it or not, this transition is inevitable. We can do this in a planned and orderly manner, or it will be fast, chaotic and challenging. Ask our PM to get on with it.

CALL THE PM

4. Look after yourself

Most importantly – look after yourself. As this scale of this crisis becomes clearer, grief and anger can be overwhelming. So take care.

Connect with nature. Connect with others. Connect with yourself. Not only will this make you happier and healthier, it’s also vital to sustaining yourself for the long haul of building a better world. We've pulled together some resources to help.

TAKE CARE

Friends at the People's Climate March

Connect with yourself and others. Photo: James Thomas

This is, as they say, the challenge of our times.

The changes we must make are radical, in the true sense of the term: radical means ‘getting to the root’. At this moment in our history, now is the time for courage and radical action.

People power saved the Franklin. Gave women the vote. Won civil rights and ended apartheid. These things happened because people showed up to make them happen.

Now we must rise up right across Australia and all over the world to stop climate damage – and save ourselves and the beautiful planet we call home.

 

Phoebe Rountree

Assistant Climate Change and Clean Energy Campaigner at Australian Conservation Foundation