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This content is taken from the Uppsala University's online course, Climate Change Leadership. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds I think that the type of climate changes leader that we need right now are people who are really courageous and committed to the challenges that are really unprecedented in history. And it’s really a time where we need everybody to actually stand up and be a leader based on an understanding that we actually are influencing the future and that this actually is we’re in the decade that matters. And for those people who really get that, who understand that, I think that the capacity for leadership really comes from an inner drive to really make a difference and to be part of positive changes that are happening all over the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds And often people are leading all over often unrecognised, and that, I think, is almost like a large self-organizing system. And if each person starts to recognise yes, I have an important role to play. It may not be visible. I may not be a prime minister or president of this or that, but I actually can make a difference here or there. In the debates today, there has been discussions like saying that climate change leadership doesn’t work. It’s up to each and every individual. And that’s true in a way. But it’s also up to each and every individual to demand change, and we have to demand change also from those that represent us.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds But, I mean essentially, the most important thing is that we can make a change. And there is no such thing as inevitable lock ins. If there’s anything you can learn from history, it’s that you can always make a change. One is actually to start on your one. You don’t need to say that unless the world will change I will not change, because this is one of the major problems which we have done even in the climate change negotiations. Each country could have put their one benchmark, go for it, not waiting for other countries, rest of the world to come together. We have always been blaming other countries on getting climate change negotiations. So we should start from ourselves.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 seconds What we can really do for the climate change. Addressing climate change, or mitigating climate change or even adapting to climate change. I think leadership comes from a commitment to act, and that action can be in all kinds of ways. But I do think over the next couple of decades, action on climate change is going to be– it’s going to get more difficult. We have a massive set of changes in society that we’ll need to make, and there will be many, many forces who want to try to prevent those changes, who want to maintain the status quo, who want to maintain profits from fossil fuel extraction, who want to maintain profits from business as usual.

Skip to 3 minutes and 23 seconds The second thing I think is extremely important for educating people and the leadership. Any way we can contribute to this, the part of informing people, educating probably is a bit of a word which sometimes it might sound a bit pompous, but it’s informing. Informing people and informing leadership. This is what the leadership issue is. Please do understand. And I don’t see any problem. The most important part is we have an informed leadership, an informed people or informed electorate, these things would be much better addressed. And that’s where we as an academic or a student of this climate change, we must try to contribute to that.

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 seconds You’ll make the biggest impact by finding what your skills are and finding out what you love to do and plugging in, because there’s so much work to be done. There’s not one place where you must plug-in.

Skip to 4 minutes and 31 seconds Where you should work is where you feel most inspired to work, because then you’re going to be able to make the most heartfelt contributions and you’re going to have the drive and the passion in order to do that work. I do think that it’s important, in saying that, to not hold the entire weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re only one person, you’re not going to be able to change the world on your own.

Skip to 4 minutes and 59 seconds So don’t burden yourself with that, but find people that you care about, find people that you’d love to work with and build a community and do the work together, and it will be the most rewarding and the most inspiring life that you have in front of you. If you find out where your skills lie, work that you love to do and people that you love to do it with. In some respects, the advice is very simple. It’s just to try. That if we don’t try to bring about change, then it will never occur. And everyone has their own view as to what’s appropriate for them, what they think their skill set is, who is they going to engage with.

Skip to 5 minutes and 45 seconds So I think to give you a very clear, specific advice is actually not necessarily very helpful. But you have to think what it is that you can do in your immediate environment to reduce yours and your friends and colleagues carbon dioxide emissions and particularly to reduce them very rapidly and then push hard to try to deliver on that. And believe in yourself. Believe that change can occur. I think I would argue probably there are lots of social scientists would tell us that trying to engage with people through incentives, through encouragement is sometimes more effective than penalties and sticks, but other times I think penalties and sticks have a role to play.

Skip to 6 minutes and 23 seconds But I think that there is no clear single bit of evidence or advice that I could give, other than the fact that it is incumbent on all of us to try as hard as we can to drive change in our own local environment.

Meet our educators

In this video you will hear from some of the educators that you will meet throughout this course. Each one is presenting what they perceive as a key take home message for a climate change leader.

Karen O’Brien is a professor of sociology and human geography at the University of Oslo and she talks about the importance of being courageous and to acknowledge both the severity of the current challenges and one’s own potential to initiate and drive change.

Anneli Ekblom is a researcher and educator at the department of archeology at Uppsala University. She stresses the importance that as individuals we should not only take personal responsibility, but also demand change from our elected leaders. If there is one thing we can learn from history, it’s that there can always be change and that there is no such thing as inevitable lock-ins.

Ashok Swain is a professor of peace and conflict at Uppsala University and he says that we should start with ourselves and stop blaming others for their lack of commitment. He also acknowledges the importance of educating and informing people and leaders.

Doreen Stabinsky was the first visiting Zennström professor in climate change leadership from 2015-2016. For her, leadership comes from a commitment to act and she encourages students to get active where they feel most inspired to work.

Kevin Anderson is the current visiting Zennström professor in climate change leadership 2016-2017. He says that the most important thing is that we try. If we never try, nothing will change. We must believe in ourselves and that change can occur. In the end it comes down to all of us to try as hard as we can.

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This video is from the free online course:

Climate Change Leadership

Uppsala University