Looking to get informed and inspired on all things sustainability? Try these 10 best TED talks on climate change and sustainability to get you started.
With growing awareness about the climate crisis, and increasing warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the imperative need to act now, many of us are looking for new ways to understand more about climate change. Many of us are also looking to try different ways to communicate to others about the climate crisis.
One easy, free and accessible way to understand more is through a TED Talk. A flick through the TED Talk archive reveals a vast array of climate change talks. These range in depth from climate scientists to activists, politicians, and more. Whilst the topics differ, all the talks share a common message – how to be impassioned to fight against climate change.
The 10 Best TED Talks on Climate Change
What To Do When Climate Change Feels Unstoppable – Clover Hogan’s TED Talk
Suffering from climate anxiety? Clover Hogan delivers this brilliant TED Talk on climate change that you’ll want to watch. Clover has experienced climate anxiety firsthand. However, she also understands the path to climate action starts with the one thing you can control: your mindset. She explains why challenging the stories that keep you feeling powerless can help you take the first step to protect the planet for generations to come.
Love, Sorrow And The Emotions That Power Climate Action – Knut Ivar Bjørlykhaug
Social worker and environmental activist Knut Ivar Bjørlykhaug delivers this inspiring TED talk on climate change. In it, Knut asks you to picture your favourite place in nature, and how would you then feel if it disappeared tomorrow? By doing so, Knut invites us to confront the deep, difficult emotions – love, sorrow and even rage – born from climate-driven ecological loss. By confronting these emotions, Knut argues we can power climate action.
Nature Is Everywhere, We Just Need To Learn To See It – Emma Marris
How do you define “nature?” Environmental writer Emma Marris argues that if we define nature as that which is untouched by humans, then we won’t have any left.
Instead, in this sustainability TED Talk, Emma urges us to consider a new definition of nature. A definition that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces. In the process, Emma encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect nature too.
The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Fight Climate Change: Talk About It – Katharine Hayhoe
How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says it’s not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years.
In this inspiring, pragmatic climate change TED Talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family and community. This can then prompt people to realise that they already care about a changing climate. “We can’t give in to despair,” she says. “We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act. And that hope begins with a conversation, today.”
Climate Justice Can’t Happen Without Racial Justice – David Lammy
Why has there been so little mention of saving Black lives from the climate emergency? For too long, racial justice efforts have been distinguished from climate justice work, says David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham. In this powerful climate change TED talk about building a new movement to care for the planet, Lammy calls for inclusion and support of Black and minority leadership on climate issues. He also calls for a global recognition that we can’t solve climate change without racial, social and intergenerational justice. If you only watch one TED Talk today, make it this one.
Why Climate Change Is A Threat to Human Rights – Mary Robinson
Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended – and their human rights threatened – by killer storms, starvation, and the loss of their own lands. In this passionate and inspiring sustainability TED Talk, the former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.
The Disarming Case To Act Right Now On Climate Change – Greta Thunberg
In this passionate call to action from November 2018, the then 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why, in August 2018, she walked out of school and organised a strike to raise awareness of global warming. This simple act of protesting outside the Swedish parliament grabbed the world’s attention. “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg says. “All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
The Link Between Climate Change, Health And Poverty – Cheryl Holder
For the poor and vulnerable, the health impacts of climate change are already here, says physician Cheryl Holder. Unseasonably hot temperatures, disease-carrying mosquitoes and climate gentrification threaten those with existing health conditions, while wealthier people move to higher ground. In this impassioned TED talk on climate change, Holder proposes impactful ways clinicians can protect their patients from climate-related health challenges. Holder also calls on doctors, politicians and others to build a care system that incorporates economic and social justice.
The Fastest Way To Slow Climate Change Now – Ilissa Ocko
“Cutting methane is the single fastest, most effective opportunity to reduce climate change risks in the near term,” says atmospheric scientist Ilissa Ocko. That’s because, unlike carbon dioxide, methane’s warming power doesn’t come from a gradual buildup over time. Instead, it is driven almost entirely by recent emissions. In this sustainability TED talk, Ocko identifies three main sources of methane pollution which, if addressed, could dramatically slow down the rate of global warming within years, not decades. “This is the methane moment,” Ocko says.
Climate Change Isn’t A Distant Threat – It’s Our Reality – Selina Neirok Leem
Every year, ocean levels rise and high tides flood the low-lying Marshall Islands in the Pacific, destroying homes, salinating water supplies and disrupting livelihoods. In this stirring poem and sustainability TED talk, youth climate warrior Selina Neirok Leem explains why adaptation using Indigenous solutions is the only choice for people on the front lines of climate change. “These islands are our ancestors, our predecessors, our homes,” Leem says. “We are at the risk of losing all of that for something we contributed very little to.”