Interview on youth climate activism with Joshua Curiel

An interview by Hans Olsen with Joshua Curiel. Subscribe now to read more on the subject.



Climate activist and freelance journalist, Joshua Curiel, sees the harrowing impacts that the climate crisis is having in all parts of life. As a vocal critic of Brexit, Curiel, despite being mild-mannered, isn’t afraid to criticise those in power when he feels they’re wrong. He’s only 20, but has already made quite the name for himself, writing on Brexit and the climate crisis for some of the UK’s largest newspapers, including The Independent and The Guardian.


Can you paint a picture for me of your home and your family background?

 I was born in Copenhagen as my parents lived there for a few years for my father’s work.

I can’t complain at all about my home. I grew up in a small house in a nice area with quite a large family, each of us always getting in the others way, but, despite this, we’re a very, very, close-knit family.

My father’s a Mexican Jew and my mother is a mix of English and Bohemian/Czech Jewish.


How did you get to be so political?

Politics was always debated at supper. My family loves to argue about pretty much everything.

I remember going to a protest against antisemitism with my mum outside the Royal Courts of Justice when I was around 14. We were there because of our concern for the rise in antisemitism in the UK. That’s the first protest I remember attending, but there were probably earlier ones that I was dragged along to.


Anything to add?

My generation is the first to grow up with an understanding of what the climate crisis is – but the last that can do anything about it. That’s bound to politicise lots of young people. I guess we’re just restless and concerned.


How do you feel about the way that the climate crisis is reported in the media?

Most publications are improving and moving forward with their coverage of the climate, but there’s still work to be done.

I think that the message that the climate crisis is not okay, and won’t disappear overnight, is getting through.

I genuinely feel that people have been made to sit up and listen because of what the media is broadcasting, but, going forward, we need to make people get up and act.


Global climate change strike at Schlossplatz, Erlangen. Global climate change strike at Schlossplatz, Erlangen.


Why is your generation taking to the streets to tackle such big issues?

Experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that we have just 12 years to act and make urgent changes, or we won’t be able to put a halt to the climate crisis.

It’s no good having these goals if we’re not going to meet them. To be honest, it’s a wonder that young people are so positive and active despite how inactive most politicians are around the world.

My generation is out of options and there aren’t many alternatives for young people other than taking to the streets.


What would you say to younger climate activists?

If you’ve never been involved before, it doesn’t matter. Join in! We all have a voice and, believe it or not, that voice is incredibly powerful.

I’m 20 and considered old amongst climate activists – and I think that tells you a lot about who cares and who is involved.

Ask yourself, what’s causing our climate to warm? Why is this dangerous? And how can I stop it?

That’s about it.


What does the future hold for you?

 If everything goes according to plan, I hope to become a barrister. It’s a profession where you’re able to make real, meaningful, change.


Are you optimistic?

Always… Otherwise there would be little point in continuing any form of activism.

I’m certainly not one of those protesters that wants to undermine capitalism, but we get to a point when the climate needs to be put above profit. Then again, the two aren’t completely separate and eco-capitalism is possible.

It’s important to remember, too, that because of the climate crisis we have a unique opportunity to change and improve the world we live in, from architecture to our consumer culture. That’s definitely something to be optimistic about.