Watching over 100 world leaders take centre stage at the COP26 Climate Conference with the aim of achieving international consensus, it’s become abundantly clear to me that emotional intelligence (EQ) holds the key to tackling climate change. Governments can set policies, but humankind needs to hold itself to account and act on them to combat the climate emergency. It is only by arming people with the following EQ skills that we can truly come together to solve the climate crisis.
Discussions about climate change evoke strong emotions – from anxiety and frustration to anger and despair. At times of heightened emotion, it’s more important than ever to draw on your self-control to respond rather than react to circumstances. It takes self-control to hold yourself to account and avoid the short cuts in life that tend to damage the environment. This means taking actions into our own hands and committing to incremental green choices that add up.
Achieving consensus takes empathy. You need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from their point of view. This will help you find common ground and have an honest and open discussion that builds trust. By showing understanding and recognising that making ‘green’ changes may be harder for others, you will be better placed to influence them on an emotional and practical level.
I believe that the ability to adapt to new challenges lies at the heart of our fight against climate change. We all need to take positive steps to reduce our carbon emissions. This requires flexibility and open-mindedness. It’s only by embracing changes in our behaviour, technology and agriculture that we can hope to become carbon neutral by 2040. It’s about setting the right goals and thinking creatively to come up with solutions that combat climate change.
Given the scale of the climate challenge, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless at the task ahead. The good news is that it’s not too late to slow or reverse climate damage. Costa Rica has successfully halted and reversed deforestation. The country won the first Earthshot prize this year for the scheme, reversing one of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America and regrowing large areas of forest. It’s about adopting a can-do mindset. Sir David Attenborough highlighted the importance of optimism when he called on leaders at the COP26 summit to be “motivated by hope rather than fear.” We all need to look to the future with hope and adopt a positive outlook. By focusing on what we can collectively achieve, rather than what we can’t, we will create a momentum for change that will silence any climate naysayers.
So in summary, it is the responsibility of all of us to harness the power of EQ to tackle climate change. By drawing on our self-control, empathy, adaptability and optimism we can work together to protect the planet for future generations.