The series Getting Action on Climate contains in-depth profiles of seven climate campaigns. A key part of our research involved conducting interviews with campaigners across the world. Read the summaries below and use the links to download the full profiles (in pdf).
Read more about the background to this project. We have also analyzed these campaigns closely in order to draw out some of the key lessons they can tell us about climate campaigning, and are pleased to share those with our readers.
Climate Change on the Ballot: How Environmental and Social Justice Activists Beat Back California’s Proposition 23
In 2010, a pair of Texas oil companies and the billionaire Koch brothers launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to kill off California’s landmark climate change law with a state ballot initiative, Proposition 23. Facing one of the most conservative electoral tidal waves in a generation and deep public concerns about jobs and gas prices, environmental and social justice groups managed to defeat the initiative by a vote of more than 2 to 1. Their victory, a landmark in the political battles over the climate crisis, offers powerful lessons about smart strategy, diverse alliance building, energized grassroots mobilization, and disciplined messaging. [Read the Prop 23 campaign profile.]
A daunting transnational line-up of banks, railroads, shipping companies and coal barons have teamed up to sell hundreds of millions of tons of cheap, dirty coal from the United States to the surging economies of Asia. In response, an extensive network of organizations and activists is stepping up to stop proposed coal exports (and the staggering climate pollution that would follow), specifically by halting the construction of new coal shipping terminals. This case study narrows in on the campaign to stop one of four planned export terminals, the Gateway Pacific Terminal in northwest Washington State. [Read the Power Past Coal campaign profile.]
In 2011 the U.S. corporate giant Chevron was awarded a permit enabling them to look for shale gas in North Bulgaria using a method of extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’. A broad coalition of concerned citizens came together to oppose the plans, taking to the streets for mass protests and communicating directly with lawmakers in Parliament, which ultimately resulted in the Bulgarian Parliament voting to revoke Chevron’s permit. This profile also looks at the variety of approaches taken by ongoing anti-fracking campaigns in the UK and New York State. [Read the anti-fracking campaign profile.]
Beginning in 2001 a pair of clean energy activists in Thailand launched a modest project modeled on village-based, small-scale renewable energy provision that snowballed into a national program of incentives for small-scale solar, hydro, biomass and biogas projects. By working in close collaboration with government agencies and the country’s powerful electric utilities, the organizers showed that building trust and ownership for change at the deepest levels of a bureaucracy can yield impressive results. [Read the Thailand renewables campaign profile.]
More Coal for Kosovo? Building a Global Alliance to Take on the World Bank and US State Department’s Dirty Development Plans
The World Bank Group, with emphatic pressure from the United States State Department, is pushing ahead on plans to finance a new 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Kosovo. But Kosovar civil society organizations have stepped up in the last year to demand an alternative to their government’s US and World Bank-driven approach. The organizers have assembled a strategic team of international allies and are bringing credible independent economic analysis to the table in an effort to both change the course of Kosovo’s energy future and decisively shift US aid spending and World Bank funding priorities away from coal and towards a development model that builds real prosperity and averts climate change. [Read the Kosovo anti-coal campaign profile.]
Mr. Wells’ class of nine- and ten-year olds from The Park School, Massachusetts, are big fans of the original Lorax book. When they visited the website for movie The Lorax, they were disappointed by the lack of environmental messages and advice visible on the website. They organized an online petition on Change.org which attracted the attention of a number of influential blogs and the national press (including ABC News and the New York Times), which led to Universal Pictures improving the site – showing just how powerful children can be when given the tools to help amplify their voices. [Read the Lorax campaign profile.]
India is planning to develop over one hundred and fifty new coal-fired power stations in the coming years, with huge implications for global climate change objectives and the many local communities who face being forced off their land and having their livelihoods destroyed. The people of Sompeta in Andhra Pradesh have mounted an inspiring campaign against a nearby planned power plant. Despite suffering serious violence and intimidation, local people have fought against the plans both in the streets and in courtrooms. Their victory against a powerful energy corporation and complicit state officials has become a powerful symbol of the Indian anti-coal movement, demonstrating the combined impact of legal and direct action strategies. [Read the India anti-coal campaign profile.]
This project is the fruit of various people’s hard work and commitment:
- Ben Brouwer – Project development; profile research and writing (Ben B is a Democracy Center Associate and former staff member)
- Ben Castle – Profile research and writing (Ben C is a Democracy Center Project Coordinator)
- Anders Vang – Design and layout (Anders is a Democracy Center Associate and former staff member)
- Maddy Ryle – Project editing, publishing and promotion (Maddy is the Democracy Center’s Communications Director)
- Jim Shultz – Profile writing, editing and communications support (Jim is the Democracy Center’s Executive Director)
- Interviewees – We would like to say a huge thanks to all the activists and organizers who helped us out by providing information and interviews for the series.