As we face the climate crisis we not only have to do so with passion and commitment, but with thoughtful and effective strategies for action. Here you will find our work on strategy around the UN climate negotiations, together with a closer look at other current climate campaigns and movements and the strategies behind them.
COP20: Movement Strategies for Moving Mountains
Published Aug 2014. How can climate activists use the COP20 meeting in Lima as an opportunity to build citizen pressure for authentic action on the climate crisis and build momentum behind the larger systemic changes that are required? That is the question that the Democracy Center has posed to more than forty activists from all corners of the climate movement – campaigners, direct action activists, journalists, indigenous leaders, and others across five continents. Through this diverse set of exploratory one-on-one conversations, we found a strong collective wisdom about a potential set of strategies around COP20 – and beyond – which you can read here in our latest report.
Read more and download Moving Mountains
Getting Action on Climate: Series of Campaign Profiles
Published Sept 2012. The Democracy Center produced a series of seven in-depth profiles on successful and ongoing climate campaigns taking place across the globe. We looked closely at the strategies they have employed and analyzed how and why they were effective in order to share this wisdom with others taking action on climate change. Much has been written about the threats of the climate crisis and much written about what, in an ideal political world, we should do about it. But we do not live in an ideal political world. We live in one where serious political action, in the U.S. in particular, seems at a virtual standstill. The action we need must be fought for and won country-by-country and community-by-community and the citizen efforts to fight those battles must be strategic and wise. The good news is that there is real wisdom and there is smart strategy out there, in citizen action campaigns on the climate crisis all over the world. There are powerful and urgent lessons to be shared – we hope you find the series useful and share those lessons around.
Go to the Climate Profiles series
The Keystone XL Series
Anti-pipeline protesters circle the White House in November 2011 – credit: Ben Castle
Published Dec 2011. One of the largest US environmental campaigns of recent years has gathered behind the effort to prevent the White House allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be constructed. The pipeline would have taken dirty oil from the Canadian tarsands to US Gulf Coast refineries and presented a huge environmental risk to local habitats, as well as the potential for huge carbon emissions from the extraction process itself. The coalition that called on Obama to refuse the pipeline permit included Nebraskan landowners, First Nations communities, and environmental campaigners of all ages and backgrounds. We interviewed many of those involved – from the leaders to the grassroots – on why they were participating and how they were winning the battle. First published on our blog, Getting Action, these interviews have now been compiled into a downloadable document that forms a case summary of the actors, messages and strategies used to win this important battle in the fight against climate change.
Download the Keystone XL Series (pdf)
Published Oct 2011. ‘Beating Goliath’ gathers case studies from previous successful campaigns against corporations, looking at how they won and what we can learn from them. As well as analysing strategies and tactics it provides links to many useful resources for activists. ‘Beating Goliath’ covers campaigns against a range of different corporate abuses, and highlights six profiles of climate justice campaigns in particular.
The resource opens with some background on corporate campaigning, and why we think it’s important to take on corporate power through individual campaigns. It then looks at a series of wins from corporate targets, with a focus on what we can learn from them as we put together new campaigns. This is followed by introductions to tools and more detailed resources for campaigners – including organizing, research, strategy, communications, coalition building, direct action, shareholder and financier strategies, legal strategies, and consumer strategies.
Read more and download Beating Goliath
Articles and Blogs
Democracy Center Director Jim Shultz in Yes! Magazine reflecting on the 21.09.14 People’s Climate March in New York and the strategy of ‘climate containment’.
Jim Shultz on Yes! outlining the three key strategy approaches that emerged during our conversations with activists about COP20.
Jim Shultz responds to a New York Times Magazine feature about Paul Kingsnorth, challenging his ‘climate pessimism’ and explaining why it’s more important than ever not to lose hope.
Written by Mads Ryle for the global day of action against fracking in October 2013.
Guest blog from Lucy Patterson of Push Europe on the global campaign in October 2013.
An exchange between Jim Shultz and Jeremy Brecher on effectiveness in the climate movement.
Jim Shultz critiques the divestment strategy on Think Progress and offers three key lessons for strategic climate activism.
Mads Ryle on how grassroots climate activism is delivering the goods where international negotiations are failing.
Jim Shultz on Grist introducing our series of climate profiles and highlighting three of the key strategy lessons that apply to campaigning on climate in particular.
Article by Jim Shultz on our blog looking at two important citizen protests, in Washington and in Bolivia, that share a common purpose — to hold supposedly ‘progressive’ Presidents to their rhetoric and promises to protect the Earth. The article can also be read on Alternet and in Yes Magazine.
Written for NACLA in the wake of the April 2010 People’s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Jim Shultz looks at how the demands that came out of Cochabamba can become a part of the global decisions ahead.
See the Media Center for a full archive of the Democracy Center’s reporting.