We are often asked to explain what the climate crisis looks like for us in the Pacific, and to share stories that prick at the global conscience, hoping that this moral compass leads us towards a livable future. The floods and the cyclone-battered roofs, the excavated graves and wilted crops, these may be what the headlines know us by, but they will not be our legacy.

Our legacy will be love.

When the Pacific Climate Warriors blockaded the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle Australia ten years ago, their canoes were steered by a love for our islands. When Tony De Brum and other Pacific leaders carried the Paris Agreement over the finish line in 2015, it was underscored by a love for our children and our children’s children. When a group of law students from Vanuatu took on the international legal system by calling for an Advisory Opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice, it was propelled by a love for our people and their basic human rights. And when we demanded a tripling of renewable energy at COP28 last year and rallied our friends and families around community-led renewable energy, it was powered by a love and hope for our futures and the agency we deserve to build them on our own terms.

But it must be acknowledged that hope is not always easy. Last week we saw that for the first time, global warming exceeded 1.5 degrees celsius over a 12-month period. That does not mean we have surpassed the limit of 1.5 degrees set by the Paris Agreement, which is over a much longer period, but it is a snapshot in time that warns us that we need to act fast and seize on the opportunities ahead for lasting change. We are already seeing the dangerous consequences of this every day, wherever we might be on the planet. 

King tides and stormy weather in Tuvalu delayed election results this week, as rising sea levels caused flooding in unprecedented areas. Photos and videos flood social media as 3.2-meter tides flood the islands. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, power outages and coastal inundation batter a country that recently produced one of the most inclusive and consultative national adaptation plans in the world. All of these barriers and breakthroughs are unfolding against a backdrop of geopolitical tug-of-war over the Pacific that seeps its way into security decisions, climate finance allocations and sovereignty for all of our island countries.

In the face of all of this, our despair is valid and our reprimand of the responsible nations deserving, but we know it cannot only be fear and anger that drives a movement. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it must be love. Not the wishy-washy love sold in plastic wrappers and and solitary roses, but the all-encompassing love that allows a mother to hold her child above the tides. The fierce, stubborn love that drives a climate negotiator to push through the long nights of policy debate, making sure we aren’t drowned out by fossil fuel lobbyists. The silent, selfless love of community organisers, fundraising for community energy access and hot lunches for the workers installing it. 

So today, as people celebrate love in all its forms across the globe, I invite you to join the fight for 1.5 and every tenth of a degree beneath it. Whether it means joining a local climate group near you, using your vote to ensure decent climate policy makes its way into your local government, or rallying your neighborhood to install community-led renewable energy, every action counts and every degree could mean another meter of shoreline saved.

This is a love letter to 1.5 degrees because at this stage in the fight, every tenth of a degree counts. Every drop of oil kept in the ground, every rooftop adorned with renewable energy, every stream and seabed kept safe from capitalist extractivism, all of these matter when survival is at stake. While some may read the news of 1.5 approaching and resign to defeatism, we know that now more than ever is the time to fight. We love our homes too much to give up, and I love my people too much to give in.

Join Us

The post A love letter to 1.5 appeared first on 350.