Listening matters: Ten Scottish Climate Podcasts

Podcasts are the new radio. They are everywhere and cover a multitude of topics in a multitude of formats – whatever takes your fancy really – a rough estimate for 2021 is an astounding 2,000,000 different shows. And they have audience numbers to match –  with 6.5 million listeners per week in the UK alone. Perhaps predictably, it’s the “real crime” and “comedy” categories that top the charts, but there is an increasing offering with a focus firmly on the biggest issue of our times – the climate crisis. 

Mary Heglar, one of co-hosts of the US-based Hot Take podcast, a show that examines how the media talks about climate change, thinks that podcasting is an ideal way to explore this complex topic. In her interview with Gizmodo she noted that such a big topic can be talked about in many ways and so it lends itself to the diverse formats and audiences characteristic of the podcast universe. Conversational format of many shows allows for informal exploration, similar to talking it out with friends, which helps the audience relate to complex issues. For many in the audience, including myself, listening can also be a lighter and more accessible way to approach these overwhelming issue than reading. And finally, as an increasingly mainstream medium, podcasts have become yet another way to normalise conversations around climate in order to drive social change towards a more climate-friendly future.

In recognition of the power of podcasts to create change, Climactic Collective, a group of Australian climate-engaged podcasters, set up a campaign for Apple to create a “climate” category for podcasts to make these stories as visible and easy to find as “true crime” and “comedy”. You can add your voice to their Podcasters Declare petition here

We are no strangers to the powers of podcast here at SCCAN. You may know that we’ve been telling stories of Scottish communities taking action on climate for several years now through the work of SCCAN’s Storytelling Circle on Future Voices and 1000 Better Stories podcasts. We have also been encouraging and upskilling communities and individuals across Scotland to share their own stories. We believe that creating and amplifying a multitude of better climate stories from our communities will help replace the dominant destructive narrative with a regenerative alternative needed to create a more planet- and people-friendly future.

Building on Paul Bristow’s work as a SCCAN Story Weaver last year, we are now developing a national Storytelling Collective, bringing together climate storytellers from Scotland to amplify a full diversity of voices from our communities and to engage wider audiences in conversations around concrete visions for a better tomorrow. We are continuing with podcasting as one of our storytelling strands, so if you are interested in audio storytelling and would like to join forces or develop and share your skills, or if you have an exciting story to share, please get in touch with one of our new Story Weavers, Kaska, on stories@scottishcommunitiescan.org.uk

To kick things off, below we share a collection of climate-focused shows which have started emerging in Scotland recently, including a couple from people who attended our training. We hope you find something to inspire you today!

Climate Fringe Stories

  • Listening time: 30-60min
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Listen here

Eminently topical podcast series just now, embedded in the Climate Fringe 2021 website  which provides a platform for all of civil society, from activists to NGOs to Trade Unions, particularly in Scotland, to share events and connect around Climate Change and COP26. The website has been built by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to join together all the activities that are happening in the run-up to, and during COP.   

12 solid episodes so far, hosted by Manish Joshi, Tami Pein and Kat Jones who chat with guests on a whole range of topics around COP26 & Climate from Indigenous leaders at COP26 to Ecofeminism and Intersectional Environmentalism. 

PLANT Voices

  • Listening time: 30-60min
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Listen here

A podcast from Tayport Community Garden where we tell local stories about gardening, food, nature and climate change. Hosted by Kaska Hempel on behalf of PLANT, Tayport Community Trust  and featuring interviews with locals involved in planet-friendly work and play in Tayport. Tales include conversation about the power of stories, our connections to nature under lockdown, first steps of the local community fridge project and explorations of what it’s like to be a local vegan. 

Decent jobs on a living planet

  • Listening time: 30-40min
  • Frequency: Occasional
  • Listen: here

Members of Young Friends of the Earth Scotland explore the concept of Just Transition, talking to experts and activists about what it means from a Scottish perspective. Topics include oil, renewables and unions.

Farmerama Radio

  • Listening time: 20-60min
  • Frequency: Fortnightly
  • Listen here

This is the longest-running podcast among our collection and is brought together by a team based across Britain -but the latest mini-series is focussed on Scotland. Founded in 2015, this award-winning podcast shares the voices behind regenerative farming. Hosted and produced by founders Abby Rose and Jo Barratt, and Glasgow based Katie Revell. Originally designed for the farming community, it has now grown a diverse audience interested in questions and solutions on how we can best produce food that’s planet- and people-friendly. And it showcases diverse voices within the farming community too. Recently, they have started producing mini-series, each focused on a single issue. The most recent of these, Landed, is an in depth exploration about the colonial nature of family farms, and an alternative model for ecologically and socially sensitive food production for Scotland. Truly mind-blowing stuff!

You can read more about the people and story behind the Farmerama Radio in a recent article in The Guardian.

Highland Good Food Conversation

  • Listening time: 30-60min
  • Frequency: Fortnightly
  • Listen: here

The Highland Good Food Podcast is a creation of the Highland Good Food Partnership who have been working towards creating a local food system that is better for the planet, better for people and better for producers. The project is funded by Transition Black Isle and The Pebble Trust. In its second series already, the podcast is a place for the locals to explore the big topics around local sustainable food together. It has created a space to hear from inspiring and progressive doers and thinkers. They chat to a wide range of folk in the local food sector, explore the challenges and highlight the opportunities. One of the recent episodes also contains highlights from the project’s Highland Good Food Conference – which provides much food for thought about what may be possible in the Highlands. A thriving, glasshouse-grown market garden industry perhaps?  

Eco-activist Journeys

  • Listening time: 60min
  • Frequency: fortnightly/monthly
  • Listen: here

Join host, Léa Weimannin, in exploring topics of sustainability, social justice, arts, and activism. Listen to inspiring conversations with people from around the world to explore how together we can and must change the world. Léa ’s podcast started while she was studying at St Andrews University she’s been using it as a way to share recordings of her Eco-Activist Journeys show from St Andrews Radio (STAR).

Connecting Women’s Voices on Climate Justice

  • Listening time: 50-60min
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Listen: here

Launched in the year of COP26 coming to Scotland, this podcast from the UN House Scotland  Climate & Gender team explores perspectives on climate action from women in Scotland and around the world. Their aim is to outline the current struggles of local communities and build solidarity and awareness of women’s rights within climate justice. They are planning to bring together community leaders resisting environmental destruction and promoting collective change. With these discussions, they hope to inform environmental and social policy and widen engagement in the themes of gender and climate justice. Already two episodes in, it makes for inspiring listening.

Restorying the Earth

  • Listening time: 30-40min
  • Frequency: Fortnightly
  • Listen: here

This is another newcomer on the Scottish scene hosted by Alette Willis, a performance storyteller, author, teacher and researcher who works with stories and people to transform the world into one where every being can thrive. If you, like us, are interested in the transformative power of stories, this is the one for you!

Alette puts it so very eloquently herself: 

“The current environmental crises we are facing–including biodiversity loss, climate change–have their roots in the stories that dominate our societies, our communities and our identities. This fortnightly podcast explores working with story to bring about thriving futures for all life on Earth. The fabulous storytellers, storywriters, storyactivists and storyresearchers I speak with generously share their experience, wisdom and stories to help us collectively restory our relationship to this beautiful world.”

The guests come from all over the world, and the conversations so far included using personal journey stories for healing, how storytelling festivals can provoke change, and dilemmas of non-indigineous storytellers face around developing their own stories of connection to land and landscapes they call home. 

Do you know of any Scottish podcasts not included here? Drop us a line at stories@scottishcommunitiescan.org.uk and we will add them to the collection!