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Surfers for Climate to scale up its Trade Up initiative to raise money for more action
Chris Kirkman, who cofounded Surfers for Climate with champion longboarder Belinda Baggs in 2019, voiced hope that Surfers for Climate can scale up its recently launched Trade Up initiative, engage with politicians and – like many non-profits – raise money so it can continue to do its work to serve climate action.
The Surfers for Climate organization has four key goals: to mobilize and empower an alliance of surfers to care about the climate; take climate action; help the surfing community play a role in stopping coastal and offshore fossil fuel developments; and make politicians who represent surfing communities take climate action.
Australia, which has suffered drought, wildfires and flooding across the country in recent years, is at the frontlines of the climate crisis, sparking increased concern amongst all sectors of the population, including surfers.
“A lot of Aussies had taken their heads out of the sand when it came to the climate, but then the fires and the floods really stepped up the urgency of the issue,” said Kirkman. “It is still a difficult pathway for people, as they don’t know where to start, or where to go”.
Part of Surfers for Climate’s remit is to reach out to surfers and point them in the right direction. “We are still learning about our audience and how to engage them,” explained Kirkman, “figuring out how we take every surfer on a journey of climate action. We refer to it as a wave of engagement with multiple take-off points on that wave”.
The non-profit organization has done everything from hosting climate-themed pub trivia nights to producing environmentally friendly consumption guides. Last month, they launched a new initiative called Trade Up, aimed at surfers who are also tradespeople, such as builders, carpenters, and electricians.
“We ran a one-day seminar, where we brought in different suppliers of materials and builders who were embracing best practice on their job sites in terms of materials and carbon neutrality,” Kirkman said.
“They had never had anyone engage with them on the environment during their whole working lives. We know there are huge emissions from construction, yet we are not talking to the tradespeople. They haven’t been engaged in the climate movement, but they just needed someone to talk to them and give them examples of best practice,” he added.
Kirkman also pointed out the discussion has been quite intellectual for a long time, with “people in suits in big meetings talking about frameworks and emissions, and we have forgotten that there are everyday people who can be involved if you take the time to engage with them, and that’s what we try to do with Surfers for Climate.”