Expansion, Evolution, and Impact of the Global Climate Change Movement

Series Introduction by Jennifer Hadden (guest editor)

Global climate change may seem like a difficult issue on which to mobilize. The causes of climate change are deeply engrained in our systems of production and consumption; the impact of climate change requires complex scientific models to understand; the most severe consequences of climate change are expected to take place on a global level in a seemingly distant future.

Yet recent events such as the People’s Climate March suggest that the global climate movement can overcome these obstacles and mobilize large, diverse constituencies. What explains recent developments in the global climate movement? What challenges lie ahead? For Mobilizing Ideas’ May Essay Dialogue, I’ve convened a group of scholars to reflect on these timely questions in light of their own research.

The contributors to this Essay Dialogue address a number of common themes. One question regards the kind of issue framing that the movement employs. Why do organizations within the global climate movement frame and (re)frame the issue in certain ways? What are the consequences, for example, of adopting an apocalyptic framing of the climate issue?   Why might climate organizations choose to reorient themselves towards a climate justice issue framing?

Another theme regards the growth and diversity of the global climate movement. Why has the movement been able to expand its mobilization in recent years? How has the movement successfully attracted new groups, reaching beyond the usual suspects in the environmental movement?  What are the consequences of “organizational bandwagoning” on the climate issue?

Our authors also consider the political and ecological consequences of global climate activism. How does the movement interact with the formal institutional politics of global climate governance? How might the movement create change in other arenas? Is the academy failing to provide tools for understanding and addressing the climate crisis?

I’d like to offer particular thanks to our distinguished contributors for their thought-provoking reflections on these and other topics:

Jen Iris Allan, University of British Columbia (essay)
Carl Cassegard, Gothenburg University, Sweden (essay)
Jennifer Hadden, University of Maryland (essay)
Shannon K. Orr, Bowling Green State University (essay)
Jackie Smith, University of Pittsburgh (essay)

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Global Climate Movement

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