When Frank Deboosere began delivering weather forecasts to millions of Belgians in the 1980s, he didn’t know he was setting out on a path that would lead to him becoming a pioneer of climate action. Today, he volunteers as an Ambassador of the European Climate Pact, fusing his scientific knowledge of meteorology with his popularity to motivate Belgians to get on their bikes, improve their health and wellbeing, and help prevent the impending storm of climate change.
My world: from weather analysis to climate action
Born in Mechelen, Belgium, the 63-year-old’s climate journey began with his curiosity about his country’s weather patterns. “I’ve always been inspired by the skies. Here, in Belgium, the weather is constantly changing, which makes it very interesting,” he says. “So, I developed my profession from my favourite pastime. Today, my job is to translate scientific information into things that people understand.” As a weather anchor for the Belgian channel VRT on both television and radio, Frank has been a regular presence in families’ living rooms across the country for decades. He’s a popular and trusted source of information, providing his viewers with expert insight into meteorology and climate change in a clear, accessible and often inspiring way.
Over the years, Frank noticed climate change starting to move rapidly up the agenda in his weather reports. “In the 1980s, we might have given a climate summary at the end of the month. These days, people are much more climate-aware. Hardly a day goes by without journalists asking me about climate change – we have a lot more work than we used to.”
But what made him personally take action? He recalls a series of heatwaves in 2003 and 2006 that saw temperatures rise to nearly 40°C, killing thousands of people across Europe. “We were getting more and more satellite data that showed that things were changing rapidly.”
My action: a two-wheeled solution
After the threat became clear, Frank decided that he needed to become part of the solution: “Over the years, we saw changes in the climate, but I saw changes in myself too.” His first step was to assess which small adjustments he could make to his daily routine to have a positive impact on the planet – the most obvious one being to cycle more. Even though the television station where he used to broadcast his weather reports was 25 km away from his home, Frank saw this as a challenge. “Since then, I’ve never looked back. I now can’t go a day without my bike!” Frank estimates that he has cycled more than 150,000 km to date, and saved tens of thousands of euros in fuel, maintenance and parking costs by leaving his car at home.
Moreover, his role as a weather presenter offered him the unique opportunity to inspire others to do the same. “As someone who was informing the public about heatwaves, floods and extreme weather, I felt it was important for me to set a good example,” he says. Frank has become a cycling advocate and regularly takes part in charity campaigns that raise the profile of cycling as a sustainable solution. Most recently, he organised an appeal to encourage people to cycle 1,000 km in aid of cancer research.
While cycling may save money, Frank believes it’s also important to ensure that these savings are not spent on unsustainable activities. “I’ve given up flying to other parts of the world,” he says. “Instead, I take my holidays in my own country. Belgium is great, and there is so much to see. A family cycling holiday is also hugely adventurous and enables you to meet so many people. If you are just starting out, take it slowly – there are lots of short routes you can take, which will bring you to places you’ve never been.”
Our planet: inspiring action from the ground up
Frank’s knowledge of climate science and his cycling advocacy have now made him a climate celebrity in Belgium. He cemented this status in 2021 by becoming an Ambassador of the European Climate Pact – a movement of people, businesses, organisations and governments united around the common cause of fighting climate change and making Europe greener, more sustainable and habitable for generations to come.
As a Climate Pact Ambassador, Frank takes every opportunity to use his status as a local celebrity and spread the message. He encourages his wide social media audience to send him climate-related questions, which he answers on his podcast, Planeet Frank. He’s also one of the famous faces supporting the Flemish government’s Dikketruiendag (Thick Sweater Day), which encourages Belgians to put on warmer clothing rather than relying on their heating systems. In short, Frank has used his fame to inform, educate and inspire the people who watch and listen to him every day.
For Frank, the Climate Pact provides an opportunity to motivate everyone to take action and cooperate – from viewers of his weather reports to the regional governments of his native Belgium, and even other countries. “For me, the European aspect of this is essential. We must act together, or our efforts will not succeed,” he says. “After all, we only have one Earth, and the things we do right now will be critical for what happens next.” The potential of European cooperation to fight climate change, for example in the field of renewable energies, is what makes Frank proud to be a Climate Pact Ambassador.
He also believes that he can use his role to drive change at a higher level, and that, as someone in the public eye, he can reach politicians across the spectrum and show that climate action is beyond political divisions. “I'm living proof that, by changing some habits, we can make a real difference,” he says. “If, as individuals, we change our habits, then companies and politicians will have to follow us. I will continue using my platform to communicate this point to people and to encourage them to do the right thing for our future.”