#2: Dharini Parthasarathy, Sr Communications Officer, Climate Action Network

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Right from the onset of her career in journalism, Dharini has always had an interest in environmental issues. Communication & policy advocacy is intertwined within Climate Action Network or CAN. For several multinational fora like the IPCC meetings, CAN is the officially accredited environmental group where it functions as the public’s eyes and ears during these closed-door meetings.

Part of CAN’s role has been to flag governments who don’t participate wholeheartedly in climate negotiations. The trick is to approach them using different strategies – through media, lobbying with negotiators by always pushing for stronger action.

South Asia is very vulnerable to climate change. Agriculture is still the primary means of income for many. There has been a focus on providing insurance to farmers where there have been droughts, increasing failure of crops & food price volatility. As and when agriculture fails, there are ripple effects like distress migration & poverty. Women, unfortunately, bear the brunt of this failure. There is enormous pressure on farmers to adapt to climate change.

'Climate activist' is a complicated word. Much before these words became part of the mainstream discourse, there were environmental defenders from areas like South America and Africa who have been the front line defenders of nature. Local communities are on the front line of climate activism in Dharini's opinion.

Youth strikers like Greta Thunberg and school groups are organizing climate strikes using social media and it translates into feet on the ground. Dharini does feel that the real battle is ending fossil fuel production. Dismantling fossil fuel companies is extremely key in our fight against the climate crisis.

Social media allows people to tell their own stories without anyone mediating. People are telling their stories, using their language, in their way. This allows everyone to become a climate communicator which is the need of the hour.

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