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Jaden L. Phillips - Youth Engagement Coordinator

Climate Reality Canada Team Profile

· Climate Reality Canada Team,Advocacy Stories
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What can you tell us about you? Can you present yourself?  

Hello! I am a third-culture-kid – growing up in East Asia despite my parents being from North America. I often introduce myself starting with this fact, as it has played a monumental role in making me who I am today, a rather global citizen. This has meant that I have been lucky to travel to quite a few countries and cultures around the world at a young age, which has given me the privilege of having a great appreciation for the magnificent diversity of both human cultures and the natural world. I am also a youth climate activist and aspiring climate scientist currently perusing a MSc in climate change communication at the University of British Columbia.
Why did you join the climate movement/what made you interested in climate change issues? 

Perhaps because of our family trips to various places as a little kid, I first became curious about the environment and nature at a young age. Fast forward a few years, for my Bachelor of Science degree, I choose to study Environmental Science (to indulge my obsession with the science of the natural world and ecosystems that sustain all life on Earth) and Psychology (to figure out why people have mostly continued business as usual in spite of well-established scientific evidence that we are in a climate crisis). It was during this degree that I discovered an intense passion for addressing the climate change challenge. Yet, it was only on my final semester abroad, in London, in the Fall of 2019 — serendipitously, coinciding with the record-breaking global climate strikes — that the galvanizing magic of climate activism ignited a flame within me. It sparked my interest in collective action and climate organizing initiatives, and to become a climate activist. I’ve not turned back since, and would not like it any other way!

What accomplishment are you proud of? 

I guess I would say I am proud of allowing myself to take time to figure out what I was truly passionate about. Rather than going into the more popular and established majors or which have the best job prospects. As for accomplishments, I am proud of myself for the commitment I put into the various grassroots climate orgs. that I have been involved in in the last 5 years. Collectively as a youth movement, I am immensely proud of how we have put pressure on institutions as well as municipal, regional, national, and even international governments to declare more ambitious climate goals and to act on their promises.

What climate change initiatives are you currently involved in? 

After starting the Extinction Rebellion (XR) local branch at University College London with a group of fellow students on my semester abroad in 2019, I’ve since organized extensively with Fridays for Future Toronto (FFFTO), co-founded Banking on A Better Future (BBF) and currently organize with Climate Justice UBC (previously UBC350). In association with BBF, I remain actively involved with the institutional divestment campaign – particularly regarding Canadian universities and their fossil fuel-linked investments. I am also the Youth Climate Ambassador Project Facilitator at the UBC Climate Hub, traveling to schools across the city of Vancouver to offer workshops on climate storytelling. Finally, I volunteer with Force of Nature – an incredible youth-led NGO based out of the UK – focused on helping young people combat eco-anxiety and transform it into agency and action.

What do you think is the most effective way for people to take action for the climate? 

That is a really great question! The enormous diversity of actions that we can take for the climate to reduce our emissions is, in my opinion, actually one of the most invigorating things about climate solutions. On the front of individual actions, adopting a plant-based diet (or simply making plants a bigger part of one’s diet) OR switching away from driving private combustion engine vehicles would be my top two. Yet, collective action, while more difficult to quantify its impact, can arguably be even more effective. Specifically, joining a group or otherwise participating in climate organizing is a way to (1) make our voices heard – demanding a sustainable future, and (2) hold governments and corporations accountable for their actions (or inaction) and climate targets.

However, for any individual person out there it can look different. As we all have different lifestyles and preferences to begin with, my most effective or ideal action to take for the climate will likely be different than yours. Nearly everyone is already doing something (even if very small) in their life that is a commendable sustainable behavior, such as bringing your reusable mug to the coffee shop or opting for the veggie options twice a week or taking the bus to work on weekdays. While tackling climate change cannot be done by any individual alone, we should each start with our strengths – perhaps taking your existing good habits just one step further to start (e.g., going plant-based slightly more often, perhaps every other day). I like thinking in analogies and I love LEGOs, so, in the twin LEGO world: Why start from a blank slate floorboard when you have already laid down a great foundation of LEGOs blocks on another board?  

What is a fun fact about you? The first time I ever broke a bone was the first time I ever tried mountain biking, in which, 10 minutes into the day of biking in the French Alps, I crashed and broke 4 bones at once!
I am fine though, made it out all right; pretty scary but no surgery needed at the end of the day! I have a cool story to tell, so it was all worth it in my book.