As Rotary’s leaders labored over how to address the planet’s environmental crises, a new network of Club-based climate action teams sprouted, and started swiftly expanding across the world. Called RCAT (for Rotary Climate Action Team), the network now has over 60 members representing four continents, and a website www.rcatnow.com packed with resources to help other Clubs educate their members and the wider community about climate change and effective ways to mitigate it. These tools include articles, videos, climate science graphs, and maps.
You can request a personalized presentation for your club on a topic of your choice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The RCAT network holds a Third Thursday speaker series with talks posted on YouTube. To sign up for notices of upcoming meetings, write to email@example.com
The other service the RCAT network offers is to help local Rotarians find climate action projects that match their talents to local needs and opportunities. The website also provides a useful template for organizing a Climate Action Team.
The concept of Climate Action Teams was born out of the 2017 strategic planning of a single Club, in Northfield, a college town in Minnesota, USA. “We chose climate issues as a focus and immediately 20 people joined the new team,” explains Northfield Rotarian Rick Estenson. Part of the goal is to address the community void in understanding the crisis, and part was “to get things done,” he adds. “This problem is urgent, and Rotary seemed poised to tackle it heart and soul.”
The Northfield Climate Action Team’s first project was to start installing electric vehicle charging stations in town, but they also wrote to the 25 largest Rotary clubs in the U.S. to invite them to start their own Action Teams. The Rotary Club of San Francisco responded swiftly and has built the network’s website to support this rapidly growing Rotary community.
“Rotary’s involvement in End Polio Now began with a single club,” Estenson says. “I saw how this could snowball,” by giving Clubs a way to share projects that are local but can be replicated. The Network’s goal is to see 800 Action Teams established around the world by a year from now.
As the Rotary Foundation finishes the planning necessary to begin accepting environmental global grant proposals in July, Climate Action Teams have prepared a fertile field by building climate science knowledge and project experience at the grassroots level. Allied with ESRAG, this growing network provide support in creating Action Teams as well as peer-to-peer project assistance to Clubs eager to make a difference as we face an existential challenge.