Category Archives: Global Climate Movement

Youth for Climate Belgium: The narrative of an exceptional protest wave

By Ruud Wouters & Michiel De Vydt

All across the globe, youngsters are staging protest, demanding politicians to take the climate crisis seriously. What started with a lonely, striking Swedish schoolgirl giving an inspiring speech at the COP24 Climate Conference in Poland, quickly became an international movement and culminated in a global day of action on March 15th. On that single day, no less than 1.6 million people in more than 125 countries at 2000 different locations walked the streets and demanded better climate policies.

In this contribution, we focus on one of the more noteworthy national protest waves within this larger international cycle of protest. Our focus is on the case of Belgium, which—we believe—both in terms of mobilization and in terms of its subsequent public and political consequences, deserves to be on the radar of activists and scholars alike. Many elements of the protest wave we will describe in the following paragraphs resonate strongly with theories of social movements (political process, opportunity, framing, resource mobilization, etc). Here, however, we put the case up front and stick to a detailed description of the events that captivated Belgium between December 2018 and April 2019. What made so many youngsters skip school for so many weeks in a row? And what were the consequences of their protest actions? Continue reading

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Global Efforts to Combat Climate Change

During the last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves by calling for a Green New Deal to combat climate change, a call that has been branded impossible and unrealistic despite climatologists’ urgent calls for wide-scale change. However, human impact on the Earth’s environment has been so devastating that geological scientists have indicated that we are in a new planetary epoch called the Anthropocene. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA point out that the five warmest years on global record have come in the 2010s. Frequent wildfires, extended droughts, and increased duration and intensity of tropical storms characterize this new climate. Unfortunately, the IPCC predicts that these conditions will worsen, as they expect the Earth’s temperature will rise 1.5 Celsius by 2030.

In spite of this existential threat to human existence, climate change has received little attention in recent presidential elections, and the Trump administration is undermining, rather than aiding efforts to slow global warming.

This month, we have four outstanding contributions that analyze environmental activists from multiple regions. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Do Extreme Weather Events Spur Action on Climate Change? Evidence of Muted Mobilization in 15 U.S. Communities

By Hilary BoudetLeanne Giordono, and Chad Zanocco

A growing scientific consensus recognizes human-caused climate change as contributing to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Moreover, scholars and activists alike contend that extreme weather events may provide the best opportunity for raising public awareness, and perhaps even instigating policy action related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. We undertook a systematic comparative case analysis of 15 communities that experienced extreme weather events in the United States between 2012 and 2015 to identify under what conditions and via what mechanisms communities undertake significant climate-related actions following an extreme weather event. We drew on data from local newspaper coverage of each event, interviews with community leaders and active participants in each location’s recovery efforts, secondary data sources about the event’s impact, and surveys with residents.

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New Hope for Climate Activism

By Chie Togami and Suzanne Staggenborg

Climate change is an unprecedented threat to our planet, a catastrophic emergency that is happening now – glaciers are melting, coral reefs are bleaching, and countries all over the world are experiencing extreme weather events such as devastating floods, fires, and storms. It is both maddening and puzzling why we did not take more action much sooner to save the planet. Scientific consensus about the unsustainable release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the dangerous impacts of climate change first emerged nearly forty years ago. Since then, the United States has failed to pass major legislation aimed at slowing climate change, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accords, and sustained one of the highest rates of climate denial in the world. Political will – especially among leading producers of greenhouse gases such as the U.S. – remains virtually nonexistent. Many of us who are frustrated with the lack of government action on climate change hope that social movement opposition to fossil fuels and our carbon-based economy will have an impact. While climate change has not yet spurred the kind of extensive grassroots activism needed (McAdam 2017), recent developments in grassroots activism on climate change provide reason for optimism. In response to political intransigence, grassroots activists are marching in the streets, boycotting fossil fuel corporations, halting pipeline projects, and lobbying elected officials for comprehensive climate change legislation.

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Climate Change and Mining Industry: What Can We Learn from Latin American Resistance to Mining?

By Lucas Christel

The mining industry strongly contributes to global warming and climate change. On the one hand, mining is one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases globally and consumes enormous amounts of energy and water (Climate Democracy 2016). On the other hand, this industry is a central component of a model of excessive consumption of resources and financial speculation linked to the use of minerals.

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Agriculture and Climate Change: Via Campesina and the Challenge to the Corporate Food System

By Pablo Lapegna

“Together we can cool the planet.” With this phrase (explained in an accessible 15-minute clip), the global social movement Via Campesina launched a campaign in 2015 to draw attention to the role of industrial or corporate agriculture in global warming and to advocate for solutions that promote agroecology and social justice.

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Global Efforts to Combat Climate Change

During the last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves by calling for a Green New Deal to combat climate change, a call that has been branded impossible and unrealistic despite climatologists’ urgent calls for wide-scale change. However, human impact on the Earth’s environment has been so devastating that geological scientists have indicated that we are in a new planetary epoch called the Anthropocene. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA point out that the five warmest years on global record have come in the 2010s. Frequent wildfires, extended droughts, and increased duration and intensity of tropical storms characterize this new climate. Unfortunately, the IPCC predicts that these conditions will worsen, as they expect the Earth’s temperature will rise 1.5 Celsius by 2030.

In spite of this existential threat to human existence, climate change has received little attention in recent presidential elections, and the Trump administration is undermining, rather than aiding efforts to slow global warming.

This month, we are joined by a policy scholar and an activist.  Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

 

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Sunrise Movement and the road to the Green New Deal

By Garrett Blad

 

On a rainy Sunday the weekend after the 2018 midterm elections, some two hundred young people filled the pews of St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. The young faces chanting and singing in the pews belonged to the Sunrise Movement, a new movement of young people fueled with anger at four decades of political inaction on climate change. Politicians on both sides call them naive for demanding change. The next day, they planned to protest and lobby the new Democratic majority, notably the soon-to-be leader Nancy Pelosi, to back what they called a Green New Deal. The plan calls for a nothing less than WW-II-scale mobilization to transform the American economy to 100% renewable energy in just 10 years. Continue reading

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Three Trends to Watch in Global Climate Change Activism (Video)

By Jennifer Hadden PhD

Scholarly works referenced in this post include my book on global climate change activism Networks in Contention (2015), an important book by Doug McAdam and Hilary Boudet on activism and siting politics for risky energy facilities, Putting Social Movements in their Place (2012), and a recent article I wrote with Jennifer Iris Alan on the NGO campaign around the issue of loss and damage.Screenshot 2019-02-01 09.33.12.png

 

 

 

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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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