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A large group of Climate Fresk workshop attendees wave for the cameras

Education, hope and action: How Climate Fresk is changing the climate conversation

June 4, 2024
June 4, 2024

When Bank Australia customer Laure Legros did a Climate Fresk workshop as part of a corporate team learning experience, she had no idea that those three hours would change the very shape and direction of her life. Now, she’s helping spread the reach of the interactive, educational workshop that aims to get everyday Australians to make more informed climate decisions.

Back in 2019, Laure Legros was comfortable and happy in her corporate tech job. Then her workplace lined up a team experience workshop called Climate Fresk, which aimed to build understanding of the fundamental science behind climate change, and what we can do about it.

So, Laure did the three-hour workshop, and it changed everything.

“It was one of those transformational moments that you don't expect,” she says. “The information just hit me in a really profound way, because it was the first time that I could see the big, clear picture of climate change. It made me aware of my own responsibility, and led to the realisation that I had to transform my career path and join the climate movement, because that’s really important at this particular moment in time.”

Climate Fresk – which comes from the French word ‘fresque’ or ‘fresco’, meaning painting on the wall – was born in 2015 as a climate communications tool. Cédric Ringenbach, a university teacher and energy expert who was teaching climate change to his students, wanted to find a way to make the data and complex information accessible, interactive and fun for students to engage with. 

Climate Fresk cards sit on a table, on top of brown parchment paper, the paper annotated with lines and arrows. In the background, four people sit on chairs in a circle

He took data points from IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports, laid them out on different cards, and asked his students to put them in order of cause and consequence. “It took away that sense of being spoken at with the usual jargon and complex information,” says Laure. “It was learning by doing, and having participants uncover the story of climate change by themselves, because that's a much better way of retaining the information. And that's how Climate Fresk was born.”

Since then, the project has spread internationally to more than 161 countries, with the cards translated into over 45 languages and shared under a creative commons licence. Globally, more than 1.6 million people have participated in the workshop so far, with over 4,000 of them in Australia – including Bank Australia staff members. In fact, Laure, who also works for employee-led climate movement organisation WorkforClimate, facilitated the session herself.

“Climate Fresk helps level up the team's collective understanding of the climate crisis,” she says. “It's been adopted by many companies as a way to train or educate their employees and mobilise them around sustainability and climate topics, so they can have those conversations in a more informed way.”

A group of people sit around and on the table as they sort the Climate Fresk cards

Along with the private workshops for businesses or community groups, there are also public events that any climate-curious person can join. The workshop follows a head, heart and hands approach. Head: using the cards to understand the problem and uncover the facts. Heart: creating a space for people to connect emotionally with the issues and engage with their emotions, whatever they may be. And hands: what are the solutions, how can I make a difference? 

“We end by having a meaningful discussion about what people can do,” Laure says. “We want to give people a sense of agency, and help them realise that, as bad as things are, they can always be fixed. There is always a way to contribute to the solution. We want to help people understand what their role might be, and how they can take the next step.”

The project follows a train-the-trainer model. Anyone who has completed the workshop can train to become a facilitator and spread the message and impact far and wide. “You don't have to be a climate expert,” says Laure. “We have a network of nearly 200 people in Australia that have been trained, and most of them are just regular people like me who did a workshop and realised this is a really excellent tool to spread awareness.”

Climate Fresk cards sit on top of brown parchment paper, the paper has been annotated with lines and arrows

While not everyone who does the workshop will go on to quit their jobs in service of the climate movement (that’s not the intention, after all), there does tend to be some universal level of personal transformation. “Everybody who does the workshop comes away saying they learned something, and it’s not unusual for people to say this workshop literally changed their life,” Laure says. “Of course, we’re not going to solve climate change in three hours, but I want people to walk out with the feeling that they've done something really positive with a group of people that are aligned with them, and that they feel empowered to make a difference.”

Check out Climate Fresk’s upcoming workshops here.

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