In part of this special Climate Curious feature, we hear from the extraordinary South African human rights and environmental activist, Kumi Naidoo.

(Before you get started though, if you haven’t listened to part one of our fascinating chat with Kumi Naidoo – go back and listen to it, here!)

“Today, the task of activism is to build a bridge to those that don’t agree with us,” says climate change and human rights activist with 45 years’ experience on the frontlines and in the boardroom Kumi Naidoo on the latest episode of the Climate Curious podcast by TEDxLondon. In our most inspiring chat to date, he explains what ‘affluenza’ is, how Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter Movements can work together, and why it’s okay to care about the planet and be a bit of hypocrite, too.

One of the world’s most-inspiring climate leaders – being a former International Executive Director of Greenpeace International and Secretary General of Amnesty International, Kumi urges us to get out there, get creative and use our talents in the name of climate change. And most importantly – don’t just interact with the people that agree with you.

But how do we do this? Kumi encourages tapping into your creative powers, (similar to what Climate Curious guest Kris De Meyer said about finding your agency), in order to make the biggest impact in the smallest amount of time.

“Anyone who plays a guitar, who sings a song, who writes poetry, who has a capability to communicate with people, and can communicate with people in a language and imagery that people understand. You need to understand: you are much, much more powerful than a community or the head of any big organisation that does not know how to sing and dance properly,”

And don’t worry if this means you feel a bit like a hypocrite. Kumi tells us this is all part and parcel of being a climate activist – it’s unavoidable that one day you’re diligently washing out your recycling and the next you’re hopping on a motorbike.

“For me, in a way, being a climate activist is like a man trying to be a good feminist. Right? Because, you know, as somebody who’s been in the feminist room for a long time, I see it as a journey. I’m never going to be at a point where I think I’ve arrived and that I’ve dealt with all the decades of issues. In the same way, I think a climate activist also has to go the journey of trying to recognise that we will have a lot of contradictions. And some of the contradictions, to be clear, are outside of our control.

All of us (if we own cars), would like to be in electric cars. Electric cars have cobalt and lithium and so on, and people (being children) have to die in the mines in Democratic Republic of Congo, so that people in Europe can drive electric cars and feel very nice about themselves, right? So all of us would like to have electric cars that don’t have human rights violations in them. But they don’t exist. So if you are driving a normal car right now and using fossil fuels, I don’t think you should see that as completely your fault.”

In part 2 of this very special feature conversation, hosted by TEDxLondon’s Maryam Pasha and advocate and activist Ben Hurst, Kumi shares why you have more power than a head of any big climate organisation, how to acknowledge the privilege that comes with being in the Global North and an incredible climate confession involving burning rubber and red hot gasoline!

Until next time – stay curious!

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