It was no surprise to learn that people as young as 18 were attending the workshop. Youth in Japan have also been moved by the campaign of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg to push governments and businesses to respond to the global climate crisis.
Former US Vice President Al Gore founded The Climate Reality Project to bring concerned citizens around the world together to understand the urgency of climate change and take action to address it. There are now over 20,000 people in 150 countries trained by the project to educate at all levels of society about the phenomenon. They, in turn, train others in their community, empowering them with the presentation skills to share their knowledge as Al Gore did so effectively in the 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth."
The 43rd Leadership Training Workshop
As a meteorologist, I am highly interested in climate change and in educating television viewers about its impact. I am continuously looking for ways to explain the problem and exploring solutions. Since moving to Japan, I have been learning more about the natural environment of the country and how people here are dealing with the new climate reality.
During the two days of training in Tokyo, we heard experts in climate science discussing the problems and potential solutions. We heard how extreme climate events are transforming Japan. In July, flooding in Kyushu was so severe that authorities issued evacuation orders or advisories to over one million people. And heat waves across the country this past summer cost many lives and caused thousands of others to be hospitalized.
Gore, and experts such as Dr. Masako Konishi of the World Wildlife Fund in Japan and Professor Yukari Takamura of the University of Tokyo spoke about actions businesses, government and ordinary citizens are taking to address the climate crisis. In a discussion about the commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the panelists seemed to agree that Japan is not doing enough at the current rate to meet its 2030 target for reductions.
On the bright side, it seems that businesses and the financial industry are starting to understand the importance of addressing the crisis. We heard that more than 800 companies in Japan are attempting to reduce their carbon footprint with cleaner environmental practices. It was suggested that businesses are ahead of the government in their commitment to renewable energy.
Leadership training outcomes
At the end of the workshop, I felt better equipped to continue educating people about the crisis facing our planet. As a meteorologist frequently appearing on television, it is my duty to engage with viewers and the community to raise awareness of the problem and help find reasonable solutions.
The Climate Reality Project brought together people in many different disciplines who are concerned about the environment. Providing the opportunity to meet and interact with these people is an important strategy for ensuring that global action on climate change comes before it is too late.