Is climate change activism dead?

A year ago climate change activists were storming Parliament. This year they are holding meetings with cupcakes and copious amounts of tea. So is climate activism dead or has it just been sleeping?

Louise Gray
Telegraph [UK]
14 Oct 2010

In a wood panelled room in East London more than 100 people, including Britain’s only Green MP Caroline Lucas, gathered earlier this week for the ‘Climate Rendezvous’. The meeting was organised by activists Climate Rush to discuss strategies for raising the profile of climate change before international talks in Cancun, Mexico next month.

The last round of United Nations talks in Copenhagen has left climate change activists a little scarred. At the end of 2009 civil society mobilised in a mass movement that saw around 20,000 people march on Parliament and violent protests in the Danish capital.

But despite this, the two week meeting achieved little. Hopes of a global deal to bring down greenhouse gases were dashed as the biggest emitters, the US and China, refused to sign up to legally-binding targets.

Since then, things have been fairly quiet. The annual ‘Climate Camp’ in Edinburgh targeted the banking sector and led to a few arrests, while a flurry of protests against BP hit the headlines in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.

It is only now that the various factions have had time to re-group and develop a ‘post-Copenhagen’ strategy.

The general theory seems to be that it was a mistake to focus on Copenhagen as a goal in itself. Instead activists are looking at the much slower and more arduous process of changing minds and lifestyles in the long term. This has meant going back to the grassroots and working with local groups to lobby regional government and business.

Movements like Transition Towns have transformed local areas, while Christian groups and the Women’s Institute have quietly got on with installing solar panels on churches and teaching families how to make compost.

At the same time it has been recognised that the international process is not going to start changing things until the 2011 meeting in South Africa or even the 2012 summit in South Korea.

Organisations like the WWF are increasingly working ‘from the inside’ to persuade big business to change their practices, while more radical groups like Greenpeace are carefully targeting the board rooms and oil rigs where the decisions are being made.

But this does not mean the anger has gone…

The article continues at the Telegraph.

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