24 Hours Of Reality: Climate Change Leader Paola Fiore

24 Hours of Reality in Italy with Paola Fiore to fight climate change and discover what we can do to improve our planet's future.

A headshot of Paola Fiore, a climate change leader
Italy Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project, Paola Fiore. Photo courtesy of Paola Fiore.

The effects of climate change are now more obvious than ever. Not only has 2020 given us a pandemic, but it has a 99% chance of becoming the fifth hottest year in a row. In Italy, the 21st century was 1 degree Celsius warmer than the previous one with a reduction in the number of the annual coldest days and an increase in the temperature change anomalies recorded compared to 1990.

This October, The Climate Reality Project has created the 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future. This is a day-long “global conversation on the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and racial injustice that shape our current moment and how we can face these challenges and together build the just and sustainable future we want.”

The event will take place from October 10 at 4 PM ET until October 11 at 4 PM ET at a global scale for all chapters of the project to participate, as well as the Italian one led by Paola Fiore.

Paola Fiore has over 20 years of experience of sustainability management and communications, and more than 26 years of environmental studies. She defines herself as “a forward-thinking pioneer in sustainability.”

She works closely with major and minor stakeholders to ensure that economic, environmental, social, cultural, climate and political factors are taken into account when building or restructuring business systems to support long-term, responsible prosperity. As well as working in the green economy sectors, like agro-industry, sustainable chemistry, renewable energy, green ICT, environmental and climate change services. In 2017, she was appointed Volunteer National Coordinator Italy of The Climate Reality Project Europe.

The Climate Reality Project is an organization created by Former US Vice President Al Gore, a well-known advocate in the fight against climate change. The mission of the organization is “committed to building a sustainable future together.” They organize annual training sessions for anyone who is open to becoming a future climate activist. Once you passed their training, you get to access not only a large network of people engaged in the same mission, but content and toolkits for anyone to be able to spread awareness about climate change.

What have been the main tasks carried out by the Italian team of The Climate Reality Project Europe?

Since I was appointed Volunteer National Coordinator Italy of The Climate Reality Project Europe in March 2017, a lot of activity has been carried out within my role and capacity on behalf of the organization in Italy at local, regional, national and international levels.

First of all, at the launch and start up of the Italian team, there were 40 newly trained climate reality leaders who participated in our European Training in June 2018 in Berlin. Then, there was the organization of a series of important events at a national level about the importance of sticking to 100% renewable energy and leaving fossil fuels in the ground to create a zero-carbon economy and society. This should happen the sooner the better, like within the next decade and not by 2050, because at that point it would be too late to save humans and the planet from catastrophic consequences that the younger generations would have to pay the price for us.

I built strategic partnerships with major Italian and European NGOs for the organisations of some important events such as WWF Italia, FOCSIV, Italian Climate Network, Global Catholic Climate Movement, and so on. In schools and universities, I carried out presentations for different audiences and also to businesses and institutions. Furthermore, I support the younger communities in their climate movement during the global climate strikes, inform the media and the public about the science of climate change, the biggest impacts of the climate crisis, and the best solutions already available in our hands to help stop or limit the climate emergency and global warming.

What brought you to be passionate and interested in this project?

I joined The Climate Reality Project in September 2015 in Miami (Floria, USA), when I decided to apply to and attend one of the 3-days of Live Training with The Climate Reality Leadership Corps and our Founder and Chairman VP Al Gore. Since the middle of the ’90s, I was involved in the Sustainable Development field. As a small child I was passionate about the care of Mother Nature and everything that relates to the protection of our unique and wonderful planet.

An an environmental and climate advocate in my heart, mind, and soul; I received such a beautiful gift from my grandmother that taught me how to care for and respect all creatures. Especially, the smaller and more fragile ones.

How has COVID-19 slowed down or changed the work carried our by the national branch?

We did not get discouraged and organized ourselves together with the support of the most active Climate Reality Leaders of Team Italy in order to support our local and international community online. We wanted to let people understand the connection between the climate crisis and the global public health pandemic. Immediately at the beginning of March, we created a video and offered our message of hope, compassion, and solidarity to Italian and European citizens and all the people in the world that were already suffering like us because of the COVID-19.

During the pandemic, we moved all our advocacy and volunteering activity online. Together with the rest of the team, we improved our presence and public engagement on our official social media channels. We created online events with students, university professors and researchers, business professionals, and representatives of public institutions in order to reach a larger audience and cover various areas of impact of the climate crisis, pandemic, and solutions.

What can you tell us about the 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future on October 10 and 11?

We are at a moment of inflection, we must demand change. Now. This has been a year of unprecedented challenges, but we must remain serious about solving the crises at hand. But we have to start talking about it. Together, as one planet. COVID-19, the climate crisis, and a global reckoning on racial justice have forced us to rethink normal and created a new world of possibilities. And that is just for starters. Now scientists warn that unless we radically reduce fossil fuel emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, global warming could rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius and unleash a series of irreversible effects transforming life as we know it and opening the door to unprecedented catastrophe. The good news is that there is hope. What happens next is up to us.

Research suggests that one of the most critical things you can do right now is talk to others about the climate crisis. When we have conversations about the crisis, we shine a light on its importance in our own communities, and make it clear to our friends, families, and neighbors that this is something serious enough to talk about. In this way, we can shift public perception and increase support for taking swift action. Now, more that ever before, it is critical to bring the world together virtually to talk about the crisis, friend-to-friend, neighbor-to-neighbor, colleague-to-colleague.

A map showing the local times that the climate change event starts at across the globe.
If you are interested in taking part in the 24 Hour of Reality, you can find here more information. Credit: 24 Hours of Reality

The work carried out by Paola and the Italian and global teams is outstanding, considering that data is showing some improvements, but not enough to be considered out of danger. However, it is hard, for someone who has being volunteering in the field such as myself, not to feel discouraged.

It can be discouraging to go through years of spreading awareness, underlining the same urgency, then seeing solutions only being carried out with baby steps. Let’s recall Severn Cullis-Suzuki who at the Rio Summit in front of the UN told leaders, like did Greta Thumberg last year, that the future generations depended on how we would treat our planet. However, Severn had made that speech in 1992 and the environmental state was already dangerous.

We can look at Paola’s words with hope.

The environment is finally on our agenda. We can take powerful steps. Let’s email, call, engage governors, leaders, and polluting companies to improve their ways, let’s pick sustainable products — when we can — and tell our family and friends they should care.

Why? Because we do not have an option. We never had an option, this isn’t new, but only now are some finally realizing it.

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