Participating in Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training

It finally happened: about 13 years after first watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT) in 2007 when it became available in Germany, I recently completed the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training! Participating in this particular training had been on my to-do list for quite some time but it hadn’t worked out thus far for different reasons: I didn’t want to apply for one of the earlier trainings offered around the world as these would have meant having to fly there for a 3-day event which I didn’t want to do. Then, when an event was scheduled to happen in Berlin in 2018, it unfortunately didn’t work out timewise for me. However, due to COVID-19 the trainings were moved to an online format in 2020 and when I noticed, I immediately applied for the first virtual session planned to happen in July. Not too surprisingly, the training team got too many applications for the event (over 10,000!), so I ended up in the second round happening from August 28 to September 3.


The training was structured into five modules: Introduction, Science, Solutions, Social change, Skill building and “Taking it home”. Four live broadcast sessions featuring Al Gore giving his presentation divided into four parts made up the focal points. Each of these sessions was followed by additional shorter panel discussions and wrapped-up by live virtual “table discussions” under the guidance of a mentor with a group of 10 to 20 trainees. In addition, several on-demand sessions were available from which we had to at least watch four from a wide variety of topics. I picked sessions about “Ensuring a healthy future for all”, “Youth Leadership”, “Mastering the presentation” and “Engaging an Online Community”. Last but not least we also had to write “Our Climate Story” and about an example for impacts or solutions to climate change, ideally from our own neck of the woods. Here is the link to “My Climate Story”.


The live broadcasts were offered at three different times to cater to different timezones. By default, trainees were put into the group fitting their country so I would have ended up in the one for Europe/Africa where the broadcasts and subsequent table-discussions then happened between 18:00 and 20:30 my time in Germany. This however didn’t suit my daily routine well, so I asked whether I could do the sessions with Asia/Pacific instead. Thanks to the flexibility of the organizing team, this was possible and I watched the sessions starting at 11:00 my time and then joined “Table-001” mentored by Glen Garner and with about a dozen table mates based in Sydney. These discussion sessions were fun to join and provided an opportunity for sharing information about our various backgrounds and activities tackling climate change. Many new connections were forged across the globe thanks to these online meetings.


One aspect of the training which really amazed me, was how current the slides presented by Al Gore during the live broadcast sessions were: they for example already included footage from recent extreme weather events around the globe. He also paid tribute to climate scientist Koni Steffen who died on August 17 while doing research on Greenland. Really impressive and moving! Directly after completing the training and joining the ranks of Climate Reality Leaders, we got access to Al Gore’s slides - all told, almost 600 of them! These will become a very valuable resource to make use of in my own presentations, especially as we are allowed to include selected slides within our own material and not only use them when we do a “signature” Climate Reality presentation. We are however strongly encouraged to do at least one of them within the next twelve months.

The general expectation is that Climate Reality Leaders complete at least “10 Acts of Leadership” within a year. These don’t all have to be presentations but can also include activities like writing a blog post (check!), writing a letter to the editor (I’m sure, I’ll find a reason for one), meeting an elected official (should happen sooner rather than later due to my involvement with Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Bürgerlobby Klimaschutz in Germany) or attending a relevant event (the next global climate strike on Sept. 25 will take care of that!) to name just some of them.

On Monday evening I joined a European meet-up where we learned about the project’s structure in Europe. This was attended by a large number of trainees, reaching almost 600 participants at one time (and without crashing Zoom!). Shortly after the meeting I got an email from a longtime online friend who was also participating in the training and he mentioned “being surprised to see my face instead of Al Gore’s”, a comment I couldn’t really place right away. All was revealed the following day when a table-mate resolved the mystery by sharing this screen-shot he had captured while waiting for the broadcast session to start:


On Thursday, the final live broadcast was titled “Taking it home” and it featured a Q&A-session where questions submitted throughout the training from several “tables” were shared via messages recorded by the respective mentors. Al Gore moderated the session and Dr. Henry Pollack, professor emeritus of geophysics at the University of Michigan as well as Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia provided answers. This was followed by Al Gore presenting the short and to the point “Truth in 10” which is a very condensed version of his presentation fitting within about 10 minutes. An older version is available for download on the Climate Reality homepage.

Next up was a real highlight when Al Gore introduced four very engaged Climate Reality Leaders and asked them questions about their first presentations, memorable feedback they received and related questions to lower the threshold any newly trained Climate Reality Leaders might have before giving their first presentations. Al Gore then had a big surprise - judging from their reactions - for the panelists: they were awared the “Alfred Sirkis Green Ring” for their outstanding engagement and contributions!


Last but not least, I’d really encourage anybody with an interest in climate change - and the already existing solutions to tackle it - to check out and then apply for the training. Once you join the Climate Reality Leadership Corps you’ll get access to a wealth of Al Gore’s slides and you’ll be networking with many other people across the globe as well as locally who share your committment to tackle climate change!


Posted by BaerbelW on Friday, 11 September, 2020

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