Karen Tam Wu is our Climate Solutions Advisor and resident expert. She shares how her background in forest certification led her down a path of climate policy and advocacy, why it’s not too late to change course for a climate safe future, and why she believes My Climate Plan is the platform we need to help us get there.
Karen started her career working in forest certification and conservation. She explains, “I worked with the private sector to encourage them to embrace more responsible forest management practices, and also with communities to help ensure that their lands and their rights were protected and respected.”
Her work took her from Brazil to Fiji and many places in between. Every step of the way she picked up more knowledge about sustainable forest management, but also the urgent threat that climate change was posing for communities around the globe.
When she returned to British Columbia, she combined what she had learned with her skills in strategic planning and her well-honed ability to be a bridge builder, and embarked on a new role as a policy advisor.
Part of her work included partnering with First Nations communities in the Great Bear Rainforest to find ways to create economic opportunities through sustainable forest conservation.
As the former B.C. Director of the Pembina Institute – Canada’s leading climate and energy think tank – she worked to identify solutions to climate change, with a focus on bringing about larger systemic changes. These included switching from gas to electric heating in homes and buildings, and calling into question plans to develop liquefied natural gas.
It’s through this work that she was introduced to My Climate Plan.
Karen says, “I was attending a meeting to discuss what steps we could be taking in B.C. to address climate change, and it just so happened that Adam [Lynes-Ford, My Climate Plan Co-founder] was there too.”
She continues, “Before the meeting started, a mutual friend had pointed him out and mentioned that I should check out My Climate Plan. I looked up the website and I was really intrigued and felt excited about its potential.”
When the job posting for Climate Solutions Advisor came up for My Climate Plan in early summer, she knew it would be a perfect fit. She says, “There’s so much polarizing rhetoric out there when it comes to climate and I really feel like My Climate Plan has the power to change the narrative.”
She continues, “People feel paralyzed by how daunting it all seems. This platform not only gives people the ability to connect, but also gives them tangible actions that they can take to make their homes, families, and communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”
And when it comes to these actions, she wants to make them easy and practical to implement for everyone – from those that are already well-versed in climate adaptation to the time-starved parents who want to know how they can keep their families safe.
To this end, Karen works behind the scenes to help fact check all of the content My Climate Plan puts out, while making sure it stays accessible to a range of audiences.
She also acts as our resident expert, helping to point us in the direction of the most relevant climate data and research to guide tangible steps for our members to take.
But for Karen, the path to a truly climate safe future must include not only our individual actions to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but also the broader changes that are necessary to address climate change on a global scale.
She explains, “It’s important for us to start thinking about how to reduce our own carbon footprint, but my goal is also to help empower people to use our voices collectively to encourage a reduction of carbon emissions at a systemic level.”
“That means we need to incentivize climate safe behaviours and choices for individuals, communities, companies, and entire industries. And ultimately we need to pass laws to ensure our planet is climate safe and resilient.”
Overall, Karen’s message is one of cautious optimism. She believes that if we take actions collectively – and quickly – the chance of a positive outcome is a lot higher than most people think.
She says, “There’s a commonly held belief that we’re locked into increasing temperatures and more devastating climate impacts. But recent science shows that if we can reach net zero carbon emissions soon, we can actually stabilize Earth’s temperature quickly, and see a decrease in temperatures in the years that follow.”
Karen recognizes that the “if” in that sentence is doing some heavy lifting. She says, “It’s technically possible to turn the ship around. But it will take all of us feeling empowered to lift up our voices and push governments and companies to slash carbon emissions. We can’t risk slipping into complacency.”
She reflects, “This sense of empowerment and collective action is exactly what we’re trying to build with My Climate Plan. And seeing so many people coming together even at this early stage is giving me reason to be hopeful that we really can make a change.”
What climate questions would you like to see Karen answer? Submit your questions here and we will select a new question each week to be featured in our newsletter.