POW Europe’s Sören Ronge reflects on the multiple crises we face, and finds that there’s only one thing needed to beat despair: You.
Year after year we are confronted with more drastic information and evidence on climate breakdown. The latest in a series of alarming news came earlier this year with the latest IPCC’s Assessment Report, where one of the lead authors stated that “any further delay…will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all” (Hans-Otto Pörtner, 2022).
How can we not fall into a state of despair and climate anxiety, especially as we seem so far away from solving this crisis? Especially when we are already confronted with other pressing crises such as the COVID pandemic and the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At Protect Our Winters, optimism is a key pillar of our work because we know that despair can quickly lead to a feeling of impotence and result in inaction and indifference. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have worked with climate change for the better part of my professional life, but it is through POW and the people that make up the outdoor community that I have found this powerful mix of hope, energy and optimism. It is what motivates me to get up each day and help find solutions to the climate crisis.
A year of highs
And we are not alone. One high point from my past year as POW Europe coordinator was directing the power of the outdoor sports community to take an active role in forming the European Green Deal at the European parliament. Because here I saw that we are in fact many fighting for a sustainable future. Even better was seeing hundreds of people sharing their sustainable travel stories, getting 20+ outdoor brands to take part in our sustainable travel challenge during POW Mobility Week and inspiring the outdoor community to track more than 20 thousand sustainable kilometers. This is was what got me really stoked.
These two actions, one on a systemic level and the other on an individual level, convince me that it is not too late to still find a way out of the climate crisis and not only to protect our winters, but also secure the livable future we all want and dream of.
The low point, without doubt, was the day Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. Besides the horrific human suffering and humanitarian crisis this is causing, it also showed the vulnerability of Europe’s current energy security and the consequences of its fossil fuel dependency. As a climate organization, we have called for a transition to renewable energy as one of our core policy pillars since the very beginning of POW. Now, with energy and fossil fuel prices at an all-time high we stand at an important turning point for Europe. It is time that we accelerate the energy transition to a truly renewable and sustainable energy future.
The climate fight is urgent (and can also be fun)
Creating a more sustainable and more inclusive society is not only necessary, but it is also possible. And together, we stand a fighting chance. At POW, we have the dedication and tools to secure the future we want. We just need… you! The greater our numbers, the stronger our voice. So join your local POW chapter, sign up for our newsletter, partner with POW or take action through our campaigns. You might just find that working together to protect what we love is not just the right thing to do, but can actually be invigorating and a lot of fun.
Lead Photo: POW Austria
About POW Europe
POW Europe helps passionate outdoor people protect the lifestyles and places they love from climate change. It is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies that protect the world today and for future generations.
POW Europe was formed in 2020 to leverage the power of its network of nine national POW chapters in Europe: Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy and the UK… and counting. Its national chapters are strongly rooted in their communities and have their ear to the ground on national and local issues. POW Europe transforms those local strengths into cohesive and impactful Europe-wide climate action. At the same time, it amplifies national campaigns, provides centralized expert support to the network and a single, coordinated point of contact for European partners.
Through its national chapters, POW Europe reaches an expanding community of over 100,000 people with its digital channels – add to that more than 3,6 million by its 130+ athlete ambassadors – as well as potentially those 60+ million Europeans who consider themselves hikers, skiers, alpinists or the like, comprising the European Outdoor Community.