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COVID-19: Ways to Remain Active on Climate

Émilie Campbell-Renaud, Community Engagement and Program Development Manager

· Advocacy Stories

Dear Climate Reality Leaders,

Let us begin by expressing our deep, collective gratitude for all the courageous workers who are out there ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met. This includes health and public safety workers, grocery store staff, truck drivers, restaurant, aviation, and warehouse workers, farmers, janitors, and sanitation workers. We are grateful to all the generous and helpful neighbours out there, and to everyone who is respecting the authorities’ recommendations during this health crisis. Our thoughts are with everyone who is directly affected by the crisis, including the elderly, people in care, small business owners, freelancers, and those who may have lost their job in this challenging time.

This time of uncertainty and isolation creates fertile ground for reflection; and we have an opportunity to challenge the status quo, now more than ever. These tumultuous times are highlighting crucial lessons at the international level about cooperation and human justice; and the time is ripe to build on these lessons and mould the future by encouraging social models that are rooted in climate justice. The economic challenges emerging from the sanitary responses and measures to fight COVID-19 cannot be an excuse to dismiss or postpone the critical answers that we need to address the climate crisis. As a matter of fact, one can open the door to act more responsibly to the other. Indeed, the current health crisis has the potential to set the table for tackling the climate crisis effectively, and this gives me great hope.

Over the past weeks, many things we thought impossible have proved themselves to be quite achievable after all. Indeed, it is deeply empowering to bear witness to our collective ability to:

  • listen to the scientists;
  • act rationally and with solidarity;
  • collaborate across borders;
  • change our habits and adapt to new realities;
  • adopt policies that tackle a threat swiftly and effectively;
  • be compassionate;
  • abandon models of consumption that deplete resources and pollute our planet;
  • re-evaluate our approach to work, how we travel to get there, and whether being there physically is necessary or even desirable;
  • prioritize the greater good.

I attended a wonderful webinar this week on the topic of communicating on climate change in the current context, which was led by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). One speaker highlighted that the climate movement is uniquely prepared for times of crisis. As climate advocates, we care about others. We want future generations to have a healthy and safe planet to live on. We care that vulnerable communities are most heavily impacted by social and environmental issues. We are used to tackling long task lists and doing a million things at once. We excel at overcoming adversity. Building bridges and working together is what we do best.

For these reasons, I encourage you to help vulnerable folks weather this present storm. I also invite you to remain active on climate in these times of physical isolation. With our typical forms of Acts of Leadership (such as giving presentations and participating in events) being currently impossible, here are a few ideas to engage in different ways:


Take advantage of your downtime at home to let your creative juices flow. Here is a great resource to help you center your language around inclusion, empowerment, and social justice.


Physical isolation creates opportunities for different kinds of convergence. Take advantage of this time to explore the technological resources that bring people together. This is a wonderful opportunity to participate in discussion forums in the Reality Hub! There’s a really neat thread happening now, whereby you are invited to share their ideas on what the organization can do for you, and what you as Climate Reality Leaders can do for each other.

Join the Headquarters staff based in Washington for a weekly Climate Reality Leader check-in. Do you want a virtual space to just talk with fellow climate activists? For as long as they’re useful, there will be weekly Reality Check-ins, starting next Wednesday, April 1, from 2-3 PM Eastern. There won’t be an agenda – we’ll just hold an open space to see and hear each other and to share thoughts, ideas, and stories. I look forward to seeing some of you on there!


Ask around to see whether members of your network would like to learn about solutions to address the climate crisis. Offering an online training is a great way to feed two birds with one scone: you’ll raise awareness and keep curious people busy in this challenging time! Providers are responding to the COVID-19 situation by offering free or enhanced access to existing and new resources. For example, Google is giving free access to the premium version of Google Hangouts, and Zoom has put together a wonderful toolkit to help users work remotely more effectively, teach and learn online, and host virtual events.


This time at home is the perfect moment to prepare a petition you’ve been meaning to share, or to support climate actions such as the Fridays for Future movement: 1) Take a picture of yourself holding your climate strike sign, wherever it is safe and comfortable for you; 2) Post your picture online using #climatestrikeonline; 3) Log it as an AOL on the Reality Hub. See? Inspiring people at a distance is possible!


There’s a wide variety of podcasts, radio shows and webinars that deal with issues that you care about. This is the perfect moment to reach out to the hosts and offer your services as a volunteer speaker! Climate Cast is a personal favourite. Here’s an inside scoop: our team is often looking for experts in the National Climate League indicator areas to feature on HUBFLIX webinars. Sign up here!


Aside from creating practical tools such as slideshows and factsheets, this is a good time to sift your tools as a Climate Leader and make sure your data is all up to date. Head to the Reality Hub to download the most recent version of Al Gore’s slideshow, and customize it as you see fit. Feeling creative? Now’s the time to gather your paintbrushes, your musical instruments, or your prettiest stationary to create some thought-provoking art.


Organizations are coming up with innovative ways to stimulate virtual mobilization. Earth Day, for example, is holding its first-ever digital edition this year, including a major global digital event that will be held on April 22nd. Need a refresher on best practices for climate leadership? Greenpeace is organizing a free online training from March 23rd to the end of April, consisting of 6 modules, 2 live webinars, and an online toolkit.

In terms of Climate Reality activities, I recommend reading our blog posts on the Climate Reality Project Canada and the Community Climate Hub websites, checking out the 2019 National Climate League Standings, or watching past Hubflix episodes. Now’s your chance to log past Acts of Leadership in your Reality Hub profile; this precious data goes a long way in bolstering our work as an organization and in keeping us afloat.

Use the hashtag #LeadonClimate on social media to tell us how you’re continuing to lead on climate while staying safe. If you aren’t on social media and think now’s a good time to learn more, here are some resources with more information: for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Look out for some Reality Hub updates! We’ll soon be launching a Climate Reality Book Club inside of Reality Hub for Climate Reality Leaders, with monthly book selections and discussions. Keep an eye on your inbox for more information.

There are countless ways to remain engaged for the climate from the comfort of your home. In our activism, however, we have to remain cognisant of the fact that most members of our audience are focused on immediate and high-stake impacts on their health, their finances and their general well-being, and are likely feeling some level of anxiety or helplessness. Be compassionate and positive in your wording, and remain mindful of timing. That petition you’ve been meaning to start? Now’s a great time to prepare it, but you might want to hold off on sharing it.

This applies to ourselves as well. It is imperative that your physical and mental health, as well as the urgent needs of your community, come first. If you feel that putting your climate action on hold is the way to do that, then we encourage you to leave Climate Reality on the back burner for now. We’ll meet again soon, feeling refreshed, stronger, and more ready than ever to tackle the climate crisis together.

You are a Climate Reality Leader. You have the ability to bring hope, to help people focus on evidence and on action, and to foster solidarity. There is hope on the other side of this crisis, and you and I have the power, today, to shape what that future will look like. Remember: the climate movement is uniquely prepared for times of crisis. This is our time to shine.

That’s what Climate Reality Leaders are trained to do, after all; and I fully trust that you are up to the challenge.

Wishing you and yours health and wellness during this challenging time.