Surfers For Climate is an Australian non-profit set up to provide a place for surfers to come together and turn the tide on climate change. With names involved in the launch including legendary surf filmmaker Jack McCoy and Sir Paul McCartney, as well as SFC co-founders and pro surfers Belinda Baggs and Johnny Abegg, they aim to mobilise and empower surfers on climate breakdown. On the morning of the US presidential election, we asked Belinda about politics, activism, and securing a healthy future for our planet and seas.
I’ve been personally involved in environmental projects that’ve been happening throughout the Australian coast for a few years, passionate about protecting the places that we play. I have a nine-year-old son, and when I started learning about the impacts of our changing climate, not just on our waves, but on our overall existence here on this planet, I was completely terrified, and decided to do anything I could to ensure he’ll have a safe and flourishing future. About a year ago to the day, I was invited to a workshop in Australia run by the Climate Council, along with another surfer and friend Johnny Abegg, and we both came away with the same idea, ‘let’s start Surfers For Climate.’
Our overall goal is to get surfers to join this movement, through education, storytelling, sharing the message with your mates out in the lineup. It’s really gonna take all of us to make a big impact. We’re about to kick off a Wipeout Your Emissions campaign on the site, focusing on ways surfers can understand and explore their own impact, and then reduce them.
I spent my whole twenties travelling around the globe chasing that amazing wave, so I’m completely guilty when it comes that. While people have experienced Covid really differently across the globe, the lack of travel has also inspired me to look inwardly, to explore those hidden nooks and crannies close to home. Whether it’s a hike down to a beach that you kind of forget about in your search for adventure overseas, I’ve realised how awesome investigating what you can have in your own back yard can be.
A great first step for people is just realising that there are a lot of alternatives out there. Simply by making a choice when we’re purchasing, to do better, can make a huge impact. Whether that’s wetsuits that are made from rubber from trees and not from oil that’s not being pumped out of the ground, or boards made from less toxic materials, when you start to make little choices, you realise how significant they can be.
“Part of making the change is acknowledging that we’re not all perfect”
Surfers For Climate is definitely not about pointing the finger or telling people what to do. We want to provide information to help people make their own choices, coming from an educated place. Inevitably, we all have a carbon footprint living in today’s society, and we aim to provide avenues to offset that. It’s a band aid, but it’s better than nothing. I’m still guilty, I drive a diesel van, filled with surfboards, but part of making the change is acknowledging that we’re not all perfect. We’re looking to provide information so that when people make their own choices, they can make informed choices, and be mindful of their actions.
Politics doesn’t have to be boring or something surfers should switch off from. There are ways to create good trouble. I was always one of those people that didn’t want to think about all that shit, I just wanted to go surf. But I’m realising more and more that that is where the big changes are going to happen. If we truly want to save these places, whether it be from preserving a small patch of wilderness in our local area, or global issues like climate change, we need to engage. As a tribe, there are millions of us across the coasts, and we absolutely need to get political if we want to save the waves and the beaches that we love.
Cover image: Jarrah Lynch