How Climate Fresk is improving public climate science understanding around the world.

Empowering the public with truthful knowledge about climate change is one of the most important and yet, difficult challenges of the climate crisis. To overcome this and improve the public understanding of climate change, including the links between human cause and effect, French engineer Cédric Ringenbach founded the card game ‘Climate Fresk’ in 2015. Since then, its popularity has grown exponentially and over 1.5million people across 157 countries have taken part in Climate Fresks. Beyond the numbers, the game can shift perceptions, educate, enable a newfound sense of empowerment and it’s seen as an effective catalyst for collective action in both workplaces and among individuals.

To give context, Climate Fresk is a serious card game used to bridge the gap between scientific climate knowledge and public understanding, by using information from the IPCC reports which are traditionally inaccessible and difficult to understand. Ringenbach crafted a game that distils the information from IPCC reports into 42 titled cards and as a group, participants will arrange these cards on a blank canvas to create a ‘fresco’ mural, using teamwork skills and elements of creativity.  Each card represents a crucial aspect of climate change, from human activities to their environmental consequences such as sea level rise or ocean acidification.

By linking cards from human causes to the consequences of climate change, participants will sequentially discuss the placement of cards to build a storyboard of climate change, becoming participative learners.  

As the game goes on the facilitator explains some of the links and more cards are added to the board, expanding the sequence. This iterative process continues for around 1.5 hours until all 42 cards find their specific place, culminating in a visual representation of the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing climate.

At the end of the game, teams are then challenged to literally draw connections between cards, depicting the intricate relationships within the narrative of climate change. Concluding with a name of each group’s fresco piece, this game uses art to delicately tell the public about the challenges of climate change and helps them explore personal perspectives on the issue.

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The game is an effective tool as participants understand the systematic nature of the challenges of climate change, and after the game participants are encouraged to have positive and open conversations about the game and figure out potential solutions. Finally, leaving the group with a feeling of empowerment that they can implement some of the climate actions that they have identified as individuals or as a group corporation.

Climate Fresk games can take place in workplaces or institutions as part of a workshop, allowing employees and stakeholders to understand their role in the climate crisis better. Fresks also take place across the world and as individuals you can attend, take part and meet people as you all create a fresco piece. The game has found an important niche and can be used as a transformative tool for education and engagement with the climate crisis.

Interview with Climate Fresk Facilitator, Ollie Stevens

Speaking to The Climate, Climate Fresk Facilitator from Bristol, Ollie Stevens sang high praise of Rigenbach’s game. Ollie has taken part in and facilitated Climate Fresks in the city, mainly with students.

“Participating in Climate Fresk raises awareness about environmental issues among young people as the activity firstly demonstrates the geographical consequences of human activities which contribute to the climate crisis. The Fresk then goes on to explore how these geographical changes can result in human suffering, establishing the causal links between specific human behaviours and their disastrous environment and social outcomes.”

When asked how the Fresk made him feel after he completed his first session, Ollie said he felt uplifted as many students “were still managing to hold onto hope for the future” after completing the discussion section of the game.

Ollie was keen to express that in his experience of facilitating Climate Fresks, participants often leave surprised by the links between cause and effect.

“Participants can find it surprising that the climate crisis can result in environmental outcomes which are seemingly opposite, for example increased flooding alongside increased drought. This reinforces the important concept that all weather patterns will become more unstable in a changing climate, which will negatively impact human life in a variety of ways.”

Looking ahead, Fresks have an important role to play in educating younger generations especially about climate science. Ollie was keen to stress this in his interview where he said, “the severity of the climate crisis, and its impact on future generations is underrepresented…Tools like Climate Fresk can therefore present valuable opportunities for learning more about climate change and its impacts.”

However, Ollie felt there was work to be done in the game’s design to include more solutions.

“I feel that Climate Fresks could do more to include education about possible solutions for tackling the climate crisis, and ideas about how individuals can take action for the climate”.


 “I encourage others to attend Climate Fresks in their area if they get the chance. It can be a valuable experience to talk to others about climate change and share ideas and knowledge about the issue.  During times of rampant misinformation about the climate, opportunities to speak to people trained in climate education are extremely useful.”