Getting Strategic: News, Views and Debates on Climate Activism



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 a closer look at current climate campaigns and movements and the strategies behind them.

Getting Action on Climate: New Series of Campaign Profiles

In September 2012 the Democracy Center published 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.

The Keystone XL Series

Anti-pipeline protesters circle the White House in November 2011 – credit: Ben Castle

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)

Beating Goliath

Published in October 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


Hometown heroes: Three ways to win climate fights at the local level

Article by Director 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.

Getting Action: A Tale of Two Protests

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.

Latin America finds a voice on climate change: with what impact?

Written 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.


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