Written by Emma Askew founder of Earth Minutes.
Earth Minutes is an environmental communication and education service that uses creative mediums, such as film production, to spread crucial environmental research across a diverse range of audiences. Our mission is to engage and empower as many people as possible to drive positive, environmental action.
Importantly, over the last few years, digital platforms (ie. ranging from Instagram to Youtube) have become increasingly more important in regards to audience reach and influence, even over television. Moreover, since the Coronavirus pandemic, the usage of digital platforms has greatly increased (Forbes, 2020) and online environmental activism has boomed, such as the #ClimateStrikeOnline and #EnvironmentalistsForBlackLivesMatter social media campaigns. This undoubtably presents an opportunity to engage the wider public in environmental subjects through digital learning.
However, during COVID-19, what can we do at home to drive Climate Action?
Find the Motivation
It is important to keep researching to ensure your action is driven as effectively as possible. However, it is important to keep your research methods interesting and inspiring, for example get involved in digital events:
- School of Law and Human Rights: Climate Change and Human Rights Research Event (18th June 2020)- https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/climate-change-and-human-rights-research-event-via-zoom-tickets-107707871142?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
- Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division: Climate Change Action Plan 2020 (Workshop, 14th July 2020) – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-change-action-plan-2020-workshop-tickets-108152561222?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
- International Institute for Environment and Development: Climate, COVID-19, and then collaboration we need (19th June 2020) –https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/climate-covid-19-and-the-collaboration-we-need-tickets-108076989184?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
- International Institute for Environment and Development (Webinars, June 2020) –https://www.iied.org/events
- Global Optimism (Talks/Global Summits, 2020) –https://globaloptimism.com/events/
- The Economist: Sustainability Week (October 2020)-https://events.economist.com/events-conferences/emea/sustainability-week
- Climate Change Series (Webinars, June 2020) –https://www.iema.net/events
Another important, yet often neglected, part of Climate Action is addressing your mindset. Research is proving that having a pessimistic approach to environmental research can result in a downward spiral of defeatism (Hausfather and Peters, 2020), which inevitably results in people feeling overwhelmed and giving up.
However, through using frameworks of ‘Stubborn Optimism’ (Figueres and Rivett-Carnac, 2020) we can empower others to commit to lifestyle changes in the long term, through envisioning a more optimistic, sustainable future. Neurological research and history itself proves that optimistic decision-making works, as shown through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement (2015). Rather than suffering paralysis from fear and disassociation, the future is still our choice and we can keep climate change in manageable limits below 1.5 degrees and we can reduce emissions by 50% in this decade (Global Optimism, 2020).
So, we can do this. We need to challenge the masses of uncertainty and devastation towards immense courage rather than giving into negative instincts of defeatism. A stubbornly optimistic mindset is vital to keep up the pressure for change.
- Read: ‘The Future We Choose’ (Figueres and Rivett-Carnac, 2020) – https://globaloptimism.com/the-future-we-choose-book/
- Listen: ‘Outrage and Optimism’ (Global Optimism, 2020) – https://globaloptimism.com/podcast/
Build or Support A Digital Campaign
Use your social media platform, brand, or blog with purpose to raise awareness on the importance ofClimate Action. Use your skill, from writing, photography, making, cinematography, speeches, painting, and find your role in environmental campaigning. Get creative. Start now.
Some example of this include, Tolmeia Gregory (@TollyDollyPosh) using hand-made GIFs and social media graphics, Tori Tsui (@toritsui_) using painted statement signs, The Trash Traveller (@thetrashtraveler) producing campaign music videos. However, if you do not know where to start, it is just as important to share and support other campaigns. If you find a particular campaign that strongly resonates with you, you can respond and share it using your own original creativity.
Petition and Fundraise
Researching and raising awareness plays a fundamental role in driving environmental action, but we cannot stop there. We can act now.
To act now, we can drive political change through petitions and we can support Climate charities/organisations by fundraising/donating to projects/schemes. Although this will not immediately change the world, these steps will encourage societal collaboration that will ultimately drive large-scale change.
People also are more inclined to take action if it is made easy, so directly link environmental petitions/fundraising to give people the direct option to act now. Some examples include:
- All in for Climate Action: https://allinforclimateaction-change.org/
- Current Climate Change Petitions: https://www.change.org/t/climate-change-3
Climate Action Charities/Organisations to donate to, if you can:
- Climate Coalition: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/donate
- Global Justice Now: https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/why-donate-global-justice-now
- Cool Earth: https://www.coolearth.org/get-involved/donate-cool-earth/
- Client Earth: https://www.clientearth.org/donate/
- Earth Day: https://www.earthday.org/donate/
Aspire to Engage the Unengaged
One of most important challenges of 2020 is to engage the unengaged in environmental issues. A recent global study by IPSOS (2020) showed the public are no more willing to change their climate behaviours than they were in 2014. However, with the digital boom of COVID-19, we all have the opportunity to reach global audiences to inspire long-term, environmental change.
Use innovation. Set a goal to empower people who do not want to change, to change.
To embrace this, Earth Minutes is producing a social media series, the ‘Now Series’, which is made up of five micro-documentaries addressing current environmental topics of 2020. These micro-docs will explore cutting-edge research and innovative solutions using fast-paced, impactful and action-driven techniques, led by the Generation of Now (the people who are driving environmental change). Crucially, this micro-doc style ensures that the environmental research is concise enough to be addressed in approximately 10 minutes; suitable for any busy social media user, increasing the likelihood of people engaging in the issues. To follow and support the release of the ‘Now Series’ micro-docs, please go to: (https://www.earthminutes.co.uk/nowseries).
In summary, there is still a lot of Climate Action to be done, yet more importantly, there is a lot we can do now. Project Drawdown’s latest report proves that we have enough climate solutions to reach carbon neutral by 2040 (Project Drawdown, 2020), so let’s use the digitalised opportunities from COVID-19 to drive Climate Action now.
- Forbes (2020). COVID-19 Pushes Up Internet Use 70% And Streaming More Than 12%, First Figures Reveal. Written by Beech, M. Found at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markbeech/2020/03/25/covid-19-pushes-up-internet-use-70-streaming-more-than-12-first-figures-reveal/#91006eb3104e
- Hausfather, Z. Peters, G. (2020) Emissions – the ‘business as usual story is misleading’. Nature. Vol 577. P619- 620. Found at: https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-020-00177-3/d41586-020-00177-3.pdf
- Project Drawdown (2020). The Drawdown Review: Climate Solutions for a New Decade. Found at: https://drawdown.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/Drawdown_Review_2020_march10.pdfhttps://drawdown.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/Drawdown_Review_2020_march10.pdf
- IPSOS (2020) Climate Change in a COVID-19 World. Earth Day 2020. Version 1. Written by Hercock, C and Dudding, A. Found at: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ipsos-nz-climate-change-and-covid19-april-2020.pdf
Earth Minutes is working to achieve:
To learn more about Climate Action see our latest goal profile on the thirteenth global goal.