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A foundation to build leadership
Climate Reality is a climate change leadership program based on a peer to peer model that focuses on trusted, credible and respected voices in networks to promote progress on solving climate change. The program equips those trained – the Climate Leaders - with the tools and skills to have conversations every day with Australians of all walks of life about climate change.
Learning from six years of action
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Climate Reality surveyed 74 Climate Leaders, representing approximately 1/3 of engaged Climate Leaders in Australia. These Climate Leaders have all continued with the program long after fulfilling their initial 12 month commitment periods. This paper represents the initial findings of the survey, plus data from regular activity reporting.
Climate Reality celebrated six years of action in 2012, and has taken the opportunity to think more deeply about the impact of the program on Climate Leaders themselves, with an eye to lessons learned for replication on other key environmental issues.
Results show that the program responds to a deep motivation of the participant to contribute more effectively. 60% of Climate Leaders were actively seeking ways to get more active on climate before finding Climate Reality. In many cases, seeing Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, sparked their interest. Many also wanted to be able to influence Australia’s political decision making on the issue.
From these motivators, two core personal goals of Climate Leaders stood out...
To be able to communicate climate change to others
To build a local groundswell of climate change action
Building leadership skills
Climate Leaders have experienced the following benefits from being engaged with the program (note participants could select as many as relevant):
“I feel more empowered and confident to be vocal about the issue” “I have influenced the attitudes of my friends and family over time” “People now come to me for advice / information on environmental issues” “I have reduced my personal environmental impact”
“I am a more active citizen”
To date, one in 60 Australians (more than 350,000 people) have seen a Climate Reality presentation.
“Without a doubt being a Climate Leader has enabled me to be a strong, confident leader in the environmental movement. I went on to host business delegations to the UNCCC, build tools and training programs for business and industry - and challenge the current status quo. I've now judged many environmental awards, delivered hundreds of presentations to tens of thousands of people both regionally and internationally.” Anne-Maree Huxley, VIC, trained 2006.
Since 2009, Climate Leaders have engaged with government representatives over 1,500 times – the equivalent of 10 government engagements per federal electorate.
“I was terrified at the prospect of speaking to media and political reps. But, through Climate Reality, I was interviewed on radio and also met with my local MP.” Kate Gracey, VIC, trained 2009.
They have also collectively conducted the equivalent of 12 media placements per week
“I am now confident to speak up even in a hostile gathering. I have had some success in submitting letters to the editor I am comfortable in meeting with politicians. I have grown through my involvement and am comfortable being an activist.” Ian Carman, trained 2009.
And have initiated countless conversations...
“I think we always need to improve our ability to talk about climate change in both a positive/opportunitydriven frame and in ways that are directly relevant to people's lives and aspirations. Climate Reality has been really innovative in these areas and I've been very grateful for that.” Simon Bradshaw, NSW, trained 2011.
“I have found myself becoming less idealistic and more realistic and pragmatic. This has been beneficial in discussing ideas around climate action from a viewpoint of rational and balanced political neutrality.” Stephen Lockhart, trained 2011.
They know that change begins at home
Those who have reduced their personal environmental impact since joining the project also feel that they are more empowered and confident to be vocal about the issue (86%), have influenced the attitudes of friends and family over time (76%), and are more active citizens (73%).
‘Walking the walk’ is powerful.
And that local is just as important as global
Half of the Climate Leaders surveyed are also active with their local Climate Action Group. And not just in a superficial way – the majority of these are involved in an average of three ways, including helping with advocacy, donating, fundraising, presenting, generating media and community organising.
“I started to see how, through a sustained effort, we could help the community believe that it was worth working to change things for the better." Jim Minifie, VIC, trained 2006.
Climate Leaders rely on the support of the Climate Reality team to graduate their efforts
Climate Leaders highlighted these top four elements which keep them engaged with the program:
“I am sustained / encouraged by the personalised support from the Climate Reality Australia team” “Access to people leading on the issue like social scientists, policy analysts and climate scientists” “I find the briefing papers and campaign updates to be useful resources”
“I am energised by fellow Climate Leaders”
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But for the tough times, there are the good
“The positive benefits and personal wellbeing that result from connectedness to your community, far outweigh a few negative moments.” Jo McCubbin, trained 2007.
Sometimes, it can all be a bit too much
The two core issues that Climate Leaders have experienced from being part of the program are climate fatigue and juggling their volunteering commitments with work. Those who have stayed with the program have either found ways to move beyond these issues, or taken time out from the program to reinvest in themselves.
As we move forward together
“Climate Reality has become a core part of my work. We will continue to strongly support and promote climate change education, environmental education and energy efficiency education for the long-term. I have made a commitment to ACF and Climate Reality that continues to be maintained through our work on a daily basis. There is no turning back...” Steve Kostoff, SA, trained 2007.