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Climate film highlights opportunities and optimism – if we start talking

Centre news

A new film featuring academics from the Priestley International Centre for Climate shows that scientists are optimistic about the prospects of managing climate change if public opinion accepts lifestyle changes.

The climate scientists talk about the need for everyone to play their part in tackling the problem and the opportunities for health and the environment. They also warn that it won’t happen if the subject is not openly discussed and they express concerns about things that could prevent this, including politics.

The film, which was made by the Priestley Centre for the Earth Day Network’s climate education week, features an introduction by BBC Look North  weather presenter Keeley Donovan.  Referring to flooding in Yorkshire, Ms Donovan talks of the power of climate change to devastate communities. “It’s really important for us to understand why these changes are occurring , how people’s lives will be affected and what measures we will need to take to adapt.”

Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds says in the film, “As a society, we still have a lot to do to decarbonise. Climate change is manageable but we have to be prepared to take action.”

Scientists in the film discuss about why they care about their research, citing social justice and concern for future generations. “The people that are most affected by climate change are not the people that have contributed to the problem in the first place,” says Dr Cat Scott. Dr Julia Steinberger adds, “I know it’s going to have an impact on my child and I want to say I really tried.”

The researchers stress that it’s not just down to them to solve the problem, describing how individual actions like reducing meat consumption and taking practical measures to reduce air pollution can make a real difference and  have co-benefits.

Fundamental to addressing the global challenge of climate change is working through the lifestyle changes necessary in an equitable way, they say. “It needs to be managed well so that people aren’t left by the wayside,” says Dr Julia Steinberger. “The scale of the changes involved require us to work differently together, live differently together … we have to think and negotiate together. If we don’t talk about it, we’re never going to get to the point in the conversation where the changes are ok.”

Keeley Donovan joined students and researchers at Leeds Kirkgate Market on Tuesday where the film premiered on the big screen to accompany a public engagement session.  It will be shown again Thursday 27 April at Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds to accompany a public event called Ask a Climate Scientist, at which questions gathered from members of the public at the market and elsewhere will be put to a panel of five climate scientists.

BBC Look North weather presenter Keeley Donovan came to Leeds Kirkgate market for the film’s premiere