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Where can we find hope during a climate crisis?

Festival of Debate hosted Hope For The Future speaking about the climate crisis and whether there are reasons to be hopeful amongst it all.

There is no planet B
Li-An Lim

The Festival of Debate event was led by Sarah Jordan, director at Hope For The Future. Other speakers were Lola Fayokun, an activist in the youth climate movement; Joe Tetlow, who joined Green Alliance in 2021 as Senior Political Advisor and finally Dr Susie Wang, who has a background in environmental and social psychology. Find upcoming Festival of Debate events here.

Hope For The Future is a climate communications charity hoping to equip communities, groups and individuals across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians.

Sarah Jordan said:

Tonight we will be answering the question of:: are there reasons to be hopeful during a climate crisis. I think with the enormity of everything that is going on in the world right now, it can be difficult to remain hopeful at times.

Sometimes in the face of an enormous crisis, talking about hope can sometimes feel a bit futile or naïve. But as you may have guessed, at Hope For The Future we are big fans of active hope and a possibility of a better future.

When Sarah asked the audience what feelings they feel when they think of climate change a very popular answer was ‘frustration’ alongside ‘worried’, ‘scared’ and ‘anxious’. She then asked the panellists their overriding feelings about climate change.

A word cloud that reads: tired concern responsible sad anxious despair hopeless depression annoyed guilty pessimism injustice motivated anxiety excitement worried scared paralysis frustration rage overwhelm terror urgency anger determination concerned

Lola Fayokun said: “I can relate to a lot of the words that the audience have said. One that I really relate to is the feeling of anger. When I first joined the climate strikes I felt this anger about why things were the way they were.

"The depth and scale of the issue forces us to really confront which does feel like a massive point of opportunity. You can’t cultivate hope on your own, it comes from action and understanding that none of us are trying to do this alone.”

Joe Tetlow continued: “For someone privileged enough to work in this space, frustration is what I feel. We know a lot of the answers but getting the change adopted by businesses, by governments and parliamentarians can be frustrating when we aren’t being listened to.

"After COP26 and the Net-Zero strategy being published there has been push back which is frustrating as well.”

Dr Susie Wang added: “In terms of hope, this morning (26th April) at Climate Outreach we released a piece of work in the UK looking into how groups in the UK feel about Net Zero and fairness. Amongst the problems of the pandemic, rising costs of living, energy prices, wars, climate change is still up there, people are concerned and want their governments to act on climate change.”

When discussing where we are at tackling climate change, Joe brought up the Global Net Zero tracker as a definite cause for hope. He explained: “They’re just targets and the next step is implementation. But in terms of countries getting on board with the Net Zero agenda whether 2040, 2050 or even 2070, I think we are making those first steps in the globe reducing carbon emissions. Then we can look at the next things we need to do and stay active.”

Dr Susie Wang added: “In terms of public engagement, change has been rapid in the UK in the past 5-10 years. When Climate Outreach was founded it was about trying to get people to even talk about climate change and be aware it’s an issue. Climate silence that was there 5-10 years ago isn’t as much of a thing nowadays.”

The next point of discussion was about the new policing bill, our right to protest and asked how we can ensure climate activists still have a voice within this. Lola Fayokun said:

Seeing the government respond to the campaigns that have been happening these past few years has been extremely harsh. The Bill will have a really negative effect on campaigning. When you break down what kind of things are being proposed in the Bill we see it addresses particular things that have happened in particular protests that the government doesn’t like.

If protests had no impact the government wouldn’t have responded. They mention distinct connections between specifics in the Bill (i.e about statues or what extinction rebellion have done). This demonstrates we are doing something that has impact. In a strange way it shows it is hopeful and we are heard.

As a final thought, Lola added: “I don’t feel it’s my place to give up,” stating that people need to come together in collaboration to help tackle the climate crisis.

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