Overview of the "Training on Climate Change"

On 27th and 28th October 2017, our two EVS volunteers Coline and Cristian took part in the Training Course on Climate Change organised by the European Youth Forum. The high level of participants, the density of the program and the quality of the speakers made the Training Course on Climate Change a precious opportunity to broaden Coline and Cristian`s knowledge on the topic and, above all, to have a first-hand experience of what being an activist means.

The first day was particularly intense and included six different presentations. The Science and Impact of Climate Change was a general but complete scientific overview of the phenomenon which provided a huge amount of information concerning its causes and consequences, the position of scientists (it is always worth to remind that 99% of scientists agree that human activities are the main causes of climate change!), its risks and what can be done to slow it down.

However, climate change is, of course, also a matter of politics - and when you talk about politics, keep in mind that the risk of being let down is really high! It was extremely disappointing discovering that from 1988, the year of the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to 2015, the year of the celebrated Paris Agreement, just some small and hesitant steps have been taken: the egoism and blindness of some countries led, for example, to the failure of the Copenhagen summit in 2009 and deeply weakened the binding power of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 (you can find more about the infamous carbon emission trading scheme here). Would you feel better if I now tell you that 99% of Costa Rica`s electric energy comes from renewable sources and that the European Union has the most advanced legislation in the world concerning climate change?

But talking and learning is not enough: it's time to take action! What's better than a session on Climate Advocacy led by a young but extremely professional WWF`s activist? If you want to be a perfect climate change advocate, these are the golden rules you should never forget: be precise but concise, persuasive but not pushy, pay attention to the form of your speeches and modulate it according to your spectators, know your audience and never, never, never target your opponent!
However, you should also remember that keeping the interest on climate change high is very challenging – and a marvelous session on Communication about Climate Change explained very well the reasons why: climate change is generally perceived as a distant and chronic problem which, in addition, requires huge efforts to be solved. Why should people be worried about that?

Here is why! After lunch (a vegetarian one!), a session employing an intersectional approach reminded us that climate change does not reveal itself only through heat waves, oceans acidification or seas level rise, but gender equality, racism, public health, social justice, austerity measures are all topics strictly related to it: do you think it's possible to fight climate change leaving them apart? And do you still perceive climate change as a distant issue that doesn't deserve your attention and energy? No? So here is what can you start to do: climate change is also a matter of office practices, and the “Green Office Practices” session made Coline and Cristian particularly proud, since they discovered – to be honest, they were already sure about that! - that YEE office is definitely a very “green” one: we travel in a sustainable way, we have reduced to zero our food waste, we eat vegetarian food, we follow a strict recycling program and we never leave our devices in standby mode. Not to be vain, but the session was nothing more than a confirmation of how good we are doing! You can find some ideas on how to follow environmentally-friendly practices in our guide Sustainable principles.

The second day was more practical and, after a short session on how to organise a successful campaign, we planned our campaigns for real! Working side by side with such passionate and competent participants was enriching and formative and, even if our campaign will never happen, Coline and Cristian came back to Prague the next day with the clear feeling of having learned a lot and, above all, that there is a lot that needs to be done.

Written by: Cristian Riva
Photo credit: Jan Mayrhofer