Climate Reality Project’s Bay Area Chapter’s communications chair Pam Allio has extensive experience working in sustainable technology and mentoring a wide range of youth environmental activists.
Allio said to Egypt Today that the Bay Area is a very important location for Climate Reality Project.
“We have about 1,500 members across eight of the counties around the Bay Area,” Allio said.
Allio added that the Bay Area is impacted by climate change, including sea level rise, drought and wildfires. The effects of the wildfires in 2019 and 2020 caused smoke to linger in the air for over 30 days.
“I'm sure you saw the pictures where San Francisco skies were orange. I was actually driving through San Francisco on that day. It was quite scary.”
Allio joined the chapter in July of 2020 after attending the first virtual training for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Soon after, she became the communications chair, eventually leading a team of 20+ volunteers to educate and bring awareness about climate change to the Bay Area community.
“I can honestly say that, in my entire business career, managing and growing this communications team has been one of the most rewarding experiences. We enjoy it, we're passionate about it, and we're making a difference. We are a team of volunteers that created a platform for people of all ages, from young to old, to encourage others to take action on climate change.”
Allio explained that their website, www.climaterealitybayarea.org, has hits from over 35 countries around the world, and their newsletter goes out to about 1,300 people every month.
“Our newsletter highlights a broad range of topics, emphasizing local action and events for our chapter members. Our blogs highlight current issues from water conservation to sustainable development issues and more. We focus our efforts on what Bay Area people care about,” Allio recounted. “Recently, we launched a new podcast series, Everyday Climate Champions, with a focus on local climate activists.”
Allio and her team have set up an infrastructure and process that leaves a legacy for the next group of leaders to take and move forward with their own creative ideas. Allio is looking forward to leading the Bay Area chapter next year as Chair and is confident her communications team will be in good hands, with a 27-year-old stepping up to lead. Allio’s goal is to encourage participants from all ages, all walks of life and all religions to be able to come together to make a difference.
On the importance of education in climate change, Allio said that it is extremely important.
“It is very important to mentor and help empower youth to use their voices, and to help those interested in developing their own careers in sustainability. I've had the opportunity to interview many young adults who are graduating from universities around the world with degrees in sustainability and environmental science. The passion around sustainability is clearly there, but many need help in navigating career options. Stepping up to mentor others is a very important and rewarding role and is an important part of being a Climate Reality Leader.”
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training is led by former Vice President Al Gore. Regarding his “Truth in 10” presentation, a ten-minute pitch highlighting what’s happening globally due to climate change and the solutions available, Allio said it gets updated every time there is a new leadership training. In 2021 and 2022, Allio mentored a new group of Climate Reality Leaders, and noticed there is no shortage of new, devastating climate events happening around the world every six months.
“The “Truth in 10” that Al Gore delivers includes the devastation that happens due to climate change, creating that sense of urgency that we must act now. Fossil fuels are a huge catalyst for driving climate change. But there is hope - we have renewable energy solutions today. The conclusion of the presentation encourages new Leaders to use their voice and encourage others to act,” Allio said.
Allio further explained that solar and wind energies are the two primary energy sources driving hope for our path forward.
“Beside relying on renewable sources of energy, we must eliminate carbon emissions by eliminating fossil fuels. I read that Egypt is trying to help drive down the cost of electric vehicles, which is step in the right direction. This is an area we need to strive for globally – making electric vehicles more affordable for all,” Allio added.
Allio works for Cisco Systems in the Engineering Sustainability Office, with a focus on accelerating the sustainability roadmap for Cisco’s products, offers and solutions. Cisco is looking at very innovative ways to create smart buildings and drive efficiencies for data center operations and campus network environments.
Allio stated that Cisco is one of the first technology hardware and equipment companies to have its goal approved under the new Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) Net Zero Standard. Cisco has committed to reaching net zero by 2040 across its value chain.
In addition to countries in Europe requiring businesses and cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable business practices through legislation, Allio recounted that there have been great strides from all stakeholders in driving corporations to focus on sustainability. This includes investors, the Board of Directors, customers, partners, and employees - especially the millennial generation.
“Young adults don't want to work for a company that doesn't truly meet their sustainability commitments. Businesses need to begin their journeys by creating a company-wide sustainability plan for a net zero future and deliver on their commitments.”
Pertaining to the major changes that have occurred in the environmental movement so far, Allio said that the level of activism from all walks of life is certainly a major change.
“Over half of the world’s population is under 30 years old. Youth and young adults have witnessed climate change since the day they were born. And they look at older generations and ask why we haven't done something to stop it. Thankfully, youth around the world are realizing they have a voice and can help drive change. A 16-year old trained Climate Reality Leader led a Green Schools campaign to install solar panels across his school district, and the campaign spread nationally. Empowering and engaging youth - and making sure they feel safe in doing so - is crucial.”
Allio said she believes youth have an important role in our climate future and thinks that there's nothing they can’t do. “Young people believe in facts and the science behind climate change. They speak authentically and truthfully.”
According to Allio, the most important aspect in climate change is that we must continue to strive towards minimizing warming to one and a half degrees Celsius.
“We are way off track, and certainly the war in Ukraine and other crises have contributed to that. We need to get back to the pledges and commitments made in the Paris Agreement and hold countries accountable. Regarding climate finance, we need to focus on countries that are most affected by climate change to help with mitigation, adaptation and loss and damages,” Allio added.
Allio’s message to the international community is that there is still time and hope, we just need to act now.
“We need to look ahead four, five, or even six generations and ask what the world is going to be like, especially because the effects of climate change have multiplied year over year. We owe it to future generations to act now.”
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