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Ian Gill, Global Head of Sustainability, TikTok, at COP28 at Expo City Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Climate content on TikTok is increasing as audiences around the world are engaging in climate conversations - and so is the risk of disinformation and misinformation spreading unchecked.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of COP28 at Expo City Dubai, Ian Gill, Global Head of Sustainability, TikTok, said TikTok has launched a new initiative just for COP28 to tackle misinformation. It is a $1 million initiative to tackle climate misinformation in support of Verified for Climate - a joint programme of the United Nations - and Purpose.

“The initiative brings together a team of ‘Verified Champions’, including scientists and trusted experts from Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, and Spain who will support select TikTok creators in developing educational content to tackle climate misinformation and disinformation while driving climate action within the TikTok community,” he explained.

“Our efforts to combat harmful misinformation while elevating authoritative information are year-round. Our policies prohibit climate change misinformation that undermines well-established scientific consensus, such as content denying the existence of climate change or the factors that contribute to it.”

Gill added: “Every day, we are inspired by our creative and active community that is passionate about having a positive impact on our world. From raising awareness of climate change to encouraging sustainable living habits and climate solutions, changemakers, advocates and mission-driven organizations continue to embrace a shared vision for a better planet on TikTok.”

100 billion views

Last year TikTok had over 100 billion video views on climate and sustainability, he added. The hashtag #climatechange alone has seen 6.6 billion video views up until now, said Gill.

“This means people have sat and watched videos with hashtag #climatechange 6.6 billion times, which I think is amazing.”

He added: “Other popular hashtags such as #ClimateAction, and #SustainableLiving have garnered 2.5 billion and 1.9 billion video views respectively, to date.”

“As part of our global #ClimateAction campaign, TikTok has teamed up with Emirates Nature-WWF to launch ‘Nature Diaries’, an exclusive video series featuring eight immersive episodes combining education and adventure, aims to foster climate action and climate literacy.”Gill said every year, at the Conference of Parties of UNFCCC, TikTok relaunches these hashtags to get the conversations going on climate and sustainability.

“What we are trying to do is both increase the quantity of climate conversations and more crucially the quality of them all. So we are asking ourselves how can we get better and how can we turn those conversations into something bigger.”

On a larger perspective, Gill said TikTok is looking at changing climate anxiety into climate empowerment and action by encouraging users into climate conversation

“One of the ways we do that is, for example, at COP28 we relaunched our hashtag #climateaction #climatechange #sustainableliving. This is a global campaign that we’re running to get as many different users and audiences involved in climate conversation. Second way we do it is around our partnerships where we are working on a documentary series on climate education content. We only launched it last week, and it’s doing very well in terms of the views.”

He added: “Thirdly we have six global creators down here at COP28 who are looking to get new audiences and drive video views around climate action. For us, it’s about democratising and demystifying the conversation.”

Gill said he was glad to be present at the COP28.

“It is such a great moment in the sustainability and global calendar. For us as a business company, coming to COP28 and showcasing some of our work is a great opportunity.Tiktok has a billion monthly active users. We have a very large global user base. Our community is our number one strength.

"For us what we are really trying to do is engage as many of that audience as possible.We are always thinking about how many climate conversations we can have, how many climate videos we can put out. The climate content is increasing because audiences are effectively seeing aligning with this content.”