Climate Change is About…Taking Effective Citizen Action

Climate change is about effective citizen action to confront the crisis. We need to challenge corporate power and create public pressure for action that addresses the root causes of climate change. The advocacy resources below seek to support and connect the important battles that are being fought at the grassroots level, while also contributing to more strategic solidarity within the international movement on climate as a whole.

1.Climate change is about…strategic action internationally

COP20: Movement Strategies for Moving Mountains

cover_English_webPublished 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

2. Climate change is about…challenging corporate power

Beating Goliath

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

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)

3. Climate change is about…strengthening strategy

Coming soon!!

Articles and Blogs on Strategy & Effective Action in the Climate Movement

Time for a New Containment Strategy? What Climate Marchers Can Learn from the Cold War

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’.

What Does Climate Change Mean to You?

Climate marchers from five cities on three continents respond to this question.

Climate Comeback: A Grassroots Movement Steps Back Into the International Arena

Jim Shultz on Yes! outlining the three key strategy approaches that emerged during our conversations with activists about COP20.

To My Friend the Climate Defeatist: Here’s Why I’m Still in the Fight

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.

Getting Action: Global Frackdown 3

Written by Mads Ryle for the global day of action against fracking in October 2014 – and also this one from the same event in 2013.

Reclaim Power – Global Month of Action on Energy

Guest blog from Lucy Patterson of Push Europe on the global campaign in October 2013.

Why Care About COP18?

Ben Castle on the New Internationalist blog, on the relationship between faraway decisions in summit rooms and the realities of melting glaciers on Andean communities.

COP Should Set Carbon Budgets for Real Progress (Getting Action, Nele Marien, Nov 2012)

Getting Action at Rio+20: Asking Hard Questions in the Marvellous City (Geting Action, Kylie Benton-Connell, Sept 2012)

Rio+20: Five Key Takeways (Christian Science Monitor, incs interview with Jim Shultz, June 2012)

How Do We Take Effective Citizen Action on the Climate Crisis?

An exchange between Jim Shultz and Jeremy Brecher on effectiveness in the climate movement.

From Doha to Divestment: The Search for a Real Strategy to Combat Climate Change

Jim Shultz critiques the divestment strategy on Think Progress and offers three key lessons for strategic climate activism.

Doom at Doha, But Hope Outside

Mads Ryle on how grassroots climate activism is delivering the goods where international negotiations are failing.

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

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 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.

Reports from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Cochabamba, April 2010:

See the Media Center for a full archive of the Democracy Center’s reporting.

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