#YEEinterview: ClimaTalk

Check out our fresh#YEEInterview. This time we enjoyed chatting with the international team of ClimaTalk, a youth-led initiative aiming at demystifying climate policy and empower young people’s environmental projects. Read more to find out about how ClimaTalk manages to communicate climate change and related policy in a way that is understandable to everyone. We are pretty sure you will enjoy this chat too! 

Who is the team behind ClimaTalk? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

ClimaTalk is a diverse, international team of over 30 young volunteers, both students and graduates, who are passionate about climate action and fostering a healthy, informed discussion around environmental policy.

How did you come up with the idea of ClimaTalk? And what does it consist of?

At ClimaTalk we seek to demystify climate policy and showcase young people’s work and projects. We hope to contribute to an environment in which everyone can understand complex climate policy issues and to spark positive change around the world.

The idea of ClimaTalk was coined as a result of our own experiences. We found it difficult to understand the theory, concepts, agreements and processes behind climate policy and therefore wanted to fill this gap by starting a climate policy education platform. We strongly believe in the importance of empowering young people, so it was clear to us that this will become a platform with a strong youth focus. Our articles are written and read mostly by young people. In addition, we showcase youth-led environmental projects and initiatives, both to support their efforts and to inspire others.

One of our newest focuses is universities. We are working on creating a huge database for our website that highlights higher education opportunities with an environmental focus and are publishing student course reviews. Secondly, we want to publish research already completed by students, for example for their bachelor or master’s theses.

In a world where we’re constantly connected to the net and able to access an enormous amount of information in a very short time, what is your advice to avoid incurring into fake news and myths about climate change?

Social media is a great asset but can also be a dangerous source of misinformation. We encourage readers to read a variety of well-researched sources with a critical mind and to perhaps be willing to stray from the platforms that they always use for accessing news – reading a variety of sources by people of different backgrounds and opinions is helpful for creating new understanding (even if it is just to help one understand the fault in certain incorrectly researched or argued narratives). We do appreciate that climate policy can be quite alienating for those without a formal background in that area. That’s why ClimaTalk exists: to facilitate understanding!

Climate change is a massive problem: still, it seems like it doesn’t feel threatening for many. Which factors, in your opinion, lead people to ignore climate change?

Climate science is complicated and constantly developing as an academic field as well as a political one. Due to the complex (and frequently unequal) effects of climate change, the ways that climate change is addressed are far from objective and necessarily political. It is true that science tells a certain story about the global climate, the present, and the future, but since a huge part of addressing climate change comes from the public sector (and from interactions between the world’s countries which are not technically legally accountable to one other), this means that politics and social interests play a huge role in interfering with the “objective” interpretations that we would like to believe we have when handling science. Furthermore, much of the research on climate change and the impact of human behaviour is about effects on animal habitats or the future rather than the present. This kind of research, though useful and informative, tends to allow many people and policymakers to ignore the need to make changes now to save the future (which often appears to be an issue to be addressed later). These two core factors distance the general public substantially from facing climate change.

Which is the biggest challenge you have faced (or you are facing) since starting this initiative?

The biggest challenge has probably been the fact that we’re all volunteering. All of us are very passionate about this topic and ClimaTalk in general, but of course we all have other responsibilities as well – this can slow things down.

Which kind of reactions/feedbacks have ClimaTalk received?

So far we’ve had very positive feedback with many people signing up to get involved! We are happy to hear that many people have expressed support for our mission of writing short and accessible articles and that they want to be involved in our work.

In your opinion, which role does youth – particularly students – play in raising awareness about environmental issues?

Young people play a key and often underappreciated role in environmental issues. Young people are the next generation of policymakers, politicians, leaders, and voters. They more often than not have strong opinions on the world they’d like to create and live in that go ignored for the same reasons climate change goes ignored – it’s hard to imagine and work towards a better future when we have so many problems in our present. We’re hoping that with the growth of large-scale youth initiatives and platforms, more and more people are listening to the voices of young people.

Looking back at when you started the project, is there something you would do differently?

Given that ClimaTalk has developed rather organically over the past months, expanding gradually both in terms of people as well as content, we would of course have a better idea of our plan now if we started again, but I don’t think we would do anything in a very different way.

What’s next for ClimaTalk?

The next big project we’re currently working on is adding another sub-team to ClimaTalk which will solely focus on COP26. We want to make the COP process, agreements and negotiations more accessible and transparent, for example through producing short and easily understandable articles, infographics, expert interviews, workshops and more.

Which advice would you give to the young people like you who want to learn more about the complexities of climate policies?

Don’t give up! The world needs more people thinking about the environment in all aspects of life. Climate policy isn’t just about policies that directly address the environment; many other sectors of governance intersect and impact our climate. There are so many avenues available for learning about climate policy. The first few shoes may not fit, but if you keep the planet in mind, you will find your way to climate action.

Thanks to ClimaTalk’s team for taking part to this interview. We cannot deny it: environmental and climate policy are complex issues. Living in a world that overwhelms us with information might result in a double-edged sword: on the one hand, we can get plenty of knowledge but on the other hand, we need to be able to discern between the real and fake news. It’s very inspiring to see an initiative like ClimaTalk, which works constantly to allow everybody to understand these challenging topics. 

Thank you again and good luck. 

Don´t forget to follow ClimaTalk on social media: 






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