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C.3.c.i. Types of Climate Activism, Strategy and Methods

Top 8 Climate Change Campaigns of 2018, Greenhouse PR, 13/12/2018,

Greenhouse was established in 2006 to 'use the power of communications to drive positive social and environmental change.’ This report covers eight diverse 2018 campaigns which Greenhouse participated in. These include international media campaigns to pressure world major insurance companies to stop insurers covering coal mines and power plants, and promoting ethical banking. It also includes campaigns on environmentally aware farming methods. 

Environmental NGOs at a Crossroads?, Environmental Politics, Vol. 27, issue 6, 2018

This issue is focused on the roles of long established environmental NGOs (ENGOs), which often act as lobbying and advocacy groups seeking to influence government policy, and the potential of more radical campaigning groups. The introduction examines the implications of both approaches, as well as possible relations between ENGOs and protest movements. Other articles explore the role, strength and weaknesses of specific organizations, such as Friends of the Earth, and the problems as well as the benefits of transnational mobilization (as at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit). Topics covered include: an assessment of the effectiveness of transferring the US model of using the law to promote public interest environmental concerns to a European setting; the expansion of ENGOs in France; and a discussion of how to avoid conflicts of interest between indigenous peoples (concerned about economic opportunities) and environmental activists in Australia. 

Meet 15 Women Leading the Fight Against Climate Change, Time, 12/09/2019,

This article notes the disproportionate impact on women of climate change in many parts of the world and the recognition of this fact in the UN Paris Agreement, which called for empowerment of women in climate talks. It also points to the prominence of women in the struggle to limit climate change, and selects 15 women from round the world playing varied roles, including Greta Thunberg.

Women, Girls and Non-Binary Leaders are Demonstrating the Kind of Leadership Our World So Badly Needs, The Elders, 06/12/2019,

The writer, educator and environmentalist Katharine Wilkinson illustrates the need for climate leadership that is 'more conventionally feminine and more faithfully feminist'.

Indigenous activists on tackling the climate crisis: ‘We have done more than any government’ - Video, The Guardian, 04/11/2021,

The Guardian spoke to six young indigenous activists from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chad, Alaska, Sweden, Indonesia and Australia about what they think about COP 26.

Askanius, Tina ; Uldam, Julie, Online Social Media for Radical Politics: Climate Change Activism on You Tube, International Journal of Electronic Governance, Vol. 4, issue 2, 2011

Discusses evolution of alternative media campaigning from the 15th UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, December 2009.

Brecher, Jeremy, Against Doom: A Climate Insurgency Manual, Oakland, CA, pm Press, 2017, pp. 128

The author is an activist who sees the potential for a global movement to prevent disastrous climate change by forcing corporations and governments to adopt more radical policies, focusing in particular on ending use of fossil fuels. He gives examples of action from many parts of the world. But his primary emphasis is on developing a strategy (including civil disobedience) for activists in the USA, stressing the need to undermine support for fossil fuel industries but also to build parallel institutions such as popular assemblies.

Cohen, Ilana ; al., et, As Protests Rage Over George Floyd’s Death, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice, Inside Climate News, 03?06/2020,

Highlights the establishment of joint effort between racial justice movements and climate justice movements in the United States in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing.

Doyle, Julie, Climate Action and Environmental Activism: The Role of Environmental NGOs and Grassroots Movements in the Global Politics of Climate Change, In in Tammy Boyce and Austin Lewes, eds., Climate Change and the Media, New York, Peter Lang, pp. 103-116

Grant, Zack, The Green Wave, Interview with German Greens-also available in German, International Politics and Society, 16/04/2019,

Refers to study by the interviewees of Green parties in 32 countries, and asks about their geographical spread (primarily Europe and Latin America), but much weaker in Eastern Europe than in most West European countries. The interview discusses the reasons for the varying electoral support and success of Green parties and also the impact of the weakening of mainstream parties and political polarisation to both the left and the right. 

Howard, Emma, The Rise and Rise of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement, The Guardian, 19/05/2019,

Reports that since US climate activist Bill McKibben and launched the divestment in fossil fuels campaign in 2012, over 220 institutions such as universities, local authorities and pension funds, have divested from some fossil fuels. So have foundations, notably the Rockefeller Brothers' Fund in 2014. The 'Fossil Free' campaign was launched in the UK in 2013, and grew more rapidly than earlier divestment campaigns against the tobacco industry and apartheid in South Africa. Howard also hails divestment by the World Council of Churches in 2014 and reports that the UN body coordinating agreement on climate change backed divestment in March 2015.

See also: Carlyle, Gabriel, 'Ducks, Direct Action and Investment', Peace News, June-July 2018, p.17.

Account of second Fossil Free UK national gathering, including examples of some campaigning and organizing experiences revealed there. The article also provides background on the rapidly growing global movement and the 880 institutions that had by then committed to some divestment from fossil fuels.

Hunter, Daniel, The Climate Resistance Handbook - or, I was part of a climate action. Now what?,, 2019, pp. 66

Hunter, who is the global training manager of the international climate action group discusses the difference between a campaign based on a strategy with a target institution and specific goal, and continuous protest using a particular tactic. He sets out six stages for a potentially successful campaign, which may involve diverse tactics, and gives examples of effective campaigns from different countries. An edited extract from the book is: 'The difference between a campaign and endless action', Peace News, 2632-2633 (Aug-Sept 2019), p. 11. 

See also: 'How to Build a Movement that Wins', Peace News, 2634-2635, Oct.-Nov. 2019, pp.8-9. which is an extract from the Handbook

Kotcher, John ; Mayers, Teresa ; Vraga, Emilie ; Stenhouse, Neil ; Maibach, Edward, Does Engagement in Advocacy Hurt the Credibility of Scientists? Results from a Randomized National Survey Experiment, Environmental Communication, Vol. 11, issue 3, 2017, pp. 415-429

Examines whether, as often assumed, scientists support for particular views and policies damages their scientific credibility. Their findings were that there was no significant indication that advocacy undermines scientific credibility.

McCarthy, Joe, What You Need to Know about Fossil Fuel Divestment, Global Citizen, 07/02/2020,

Notes that the movement for divestment from fossil fuels has grown 'from picket signs and petitions to a multi-trillion dollar crusade involving more than 350 institutions worldwide'. Cites Norway's Sovereign Wealth fund, the Episcopal Church and the British Medical Association as some of the important bodies that have divested, and that investment firms such as Blackrock have begun to withdraw support from climate polluting industries, as have universities and various companies. But also notes that divestment still often initiated by pressure from below. 

McGreal, Chris, A Dirty Secret: Big Oil and Gas Face a Reckoning, Guardian Weekly, 09/07/2021, pp. 30-32

Article discussing the rising number of law suits being brought in the US by cities and states against fossil fuel companies for environmental damage and for hiding information about the dangers of their operations. It also comments on how courts and activists are influencing the board membership of oil companies. But McGreal notes that although there is mounting pressure on the companies, the court process is very slow.

McMonagle, Rachel, OPINION: We can’t tackle climate change without indigenous people, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 04/02/2021,

Following President Joe Biden’s initiative to recommit to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the signing of an executive order halting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project, this article emphasises the role of indigenous people within the climate justice movement.

See also: Ambroiggio, Mia, ‘Why We Need to Center Indigenous Voices in Climate Conversations’,  Loyola Phoenix, 3 February 2021.

Odendahl, Teresa, Women on climate change frontline make big impact on small grants, The Guardian, 28/11/2014,

Briefly discusses the women-led initiative in Indonesia against the burning and plundering of forests for mining and palm oil plantation.

Roser-Renouf, Connie ; Atkinson, Lucy ; Maibach, Edward ; Leiserowitz, Anthony, The consumer as climate activist, International Journal of Communication, Vol. 10, 2016, pp. 4759-4783

The article examines how far in the US consuming green products is linked to a desire to alter corporate practices that lead to climate change. It finds that concern about global warming and belief in consumer activism does predict ‘green purchasing, behaviour and opinion leadership’. The authors note the role of communications in promoting both concern about global warming and belief in consumer activism.

See also Laurence, Bill, ‘Boycotts are a crucial weapon to fight environment-harming firms’, The Conversation, 6 April 2014.

Roser-Renounf, Connie ; Atkinson, Lucy ; Maibach, Edward ; Leiserowitz, Anthony, The Consumer as Climate Activist, International Journal of Communication, Vol. 10, 2016, pp. 4759-4783

In the context of rapid growth in consumption of green products in the US, the authors use national survey data to test their hypothesis that people's beliefs about global warming as well as their beliefs about consumer activism, predict their approach to green consumerism.  

See also: Del Valle, Gaby, 'Can Consumer choices Ward Off the Worst Effects of Climate Change? An Expert Explains', Vox, 12 Oct. 2018,

Notes that the 2018 UN report on climate change warns less than two decades to limit global warming to 1.5% centigrade, and that in response proposals made for individual actions in response on issues such as meat eating and transport.  But the article also notes that the Climate Accountability Institute in its 2017 'Carbon Majors' report traced 70% of greenhouse gas emissions to 100 companies, which suggests individual actions 'futile'. The article notes that individuals can also reduce emissions per household through energy efficiency and altering houses to conserve energy. 

Ruiz, Felipe ; Vallejo, Juan Pablo, The Post-Political Link Between Gender and Climate Change: The Case of the Nationally Determined Contributions Support Programme, Contexto Internacional, Vol. 41, issue 2, 2019

This is an article querying the emphasis on gender in the UN Development Programme. Examining how gender was incorporated into Colombia’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy, they suggest that there are various risks in promoting feminist ideas within ‘mainstream institutional frameworks’.

Rupinder, Mangat ; Dalby, Simon ; Paterson, Matthew, Divestment discourse: war, justice, morality and money, Environmental Politics, Vol. 27, issue 2, 2018, pp. 187-206

The authors focus on the ‘discourse’ used in North America to promote disinvestment in fossil fuels, based on statements by activists, mainstream media reports on campaigns and coverage in alternative media. They argue that there are four overlapping narratives. The first ‘of war and enemies’, with fossil fuel companies as the enemies, is most dominant. The others are: ‘morality, economics and justice’.

Scheidel, Arnim, Environmental Conflicts and Defenders, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 63, 2020, pp. 1-12

This analysis of 2743 cases highlights the characteristics of environmental conflicts and the activists involved, examining their mobilization strategies and the need for specific support for indigenous for indigenous activists. The study finds that bottom up movements for more sustainable and socially just approaches to the environment can be found worldwide, and across all income groups, indicating that grass roots environmentalism is a promising force for sustainability. The authors note that environmental defenders are of ten members of vulnerable groups and use largely nonviolent methods, playing a significant role in preventing environmental destruction in 11 per cent of cases studied. However, these activists also face serious risk of criminalization (20 per cent of cases), physical violence (18 per cent) and assassination (13 per cent). These risks increase significantly when indigenous people are involved. The analysis is based on the Environmental Justice Atlas, (EJAtlas) database), which the authors created in 2011 to monitor worldwide climate justice protests.

See also: Grist, ‘For Indigenous Protesters, Defending the Environment Can Be Fatal’, Eco Watch, 11 June 2020.

Temper, Leah ; al., et, Movements Shaping Climate Futures: A Systematic Mapping of Protests Against Fossil Fuel and Low Carbon Energy Projects, Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 15, issue 12, 2020, pp. 1-24

This articles provides a systematic mapping of resistance movements against both fossil fuel (FF) and also against low carbon energy (LCE) projects. Hydropower projects dominate in the LCE category, causing both social and environmental damage.  The authors find that over a quarter of the projects encountering social resistance have been suspended or delayed, that low carbon renewable energy projects cause conflict as much as fossil fuel projects, and that both disproportionally impact socially vulnerable groups such as rural communities and indigenous peoples. The authors also find that repression and violence against protesters and land defenders was widespread, and that assassination of activists occurred in 10 per cent of all the cases analyzed. 

Thorson, Kierstin ; Weng, Lupamg, Committed Participation or Flashes of Action? Mobilizing Public Attention to Climate on Twitter, 2011-2015, Environmental Communication, Vol. 14, issue 2, 2020, pp. 347-363

Climate advocacy organizations are increasingly using social media to mobilize the public and so put pressure on policy-makers. The authors' investigation found that relatively few people repeatedly used Twitter on climate issues, though a small group of organizations and individuals did so repeatedly. They therefore raise questions about maintaining political interest over time.

Trent, Steve, As indigenous people protest in Colombia, we must rally with them, Environmental Justice Foundation, 2020

With a yearly figure of 251 activists assassinated in Colombia in 2020, and an average of 4 every week since the Paris agreement’s adoption in December 2015, indigenous activists in Colombia have risen against violence and environmental destruction with protests beginning in Bogota last month in October 2020.

Wheelan, James, Community Organising for Climate Action, Social Alternatives, Vol. 31, issue 1, 2012

Examines techniques of community organizing adopted by some environmental and climate change activists, and notes this approach alien to institutionalized and hierarchical NGOs.