So you want to be a climate campaigner? Here’s howMaeve Shearlaw
Monday 23 January 2017 12.28 GMT
The planet is getting hotter, leaving people hungry and fuelling wars around the world and you want to do something about it. But with a green movement to cater for every age, location, and type of plastic recycling, how do you turn your enthusiasm into action?
We talked to campaigners and politicians to glean their top tips for getting started as a climate activist.
Find the ‘little big thing’
“The age old problem for green campaigners is how to make something so big, so important, so potentially catastrophic seem like something people should engage with now,” says John Coventry from GoFundMe. “The very best campaigns take those huge problems and make them real for people in their day-to-day life.”
He calls this the “‘little big thing’ – the clear relatable story that brings a wider issue to life”. Once you have this locked, says Coventry, you should campaign with tenacity, utilising every platform “from old-fashioned newspapers to snapchat” to get your message across. “Unexpected things will happen and things will fail. Learn from all of it and keep going,” he adds.
Work backwards from the coal face
Naia Bazin Lopez from People and Planet, a movement for students, recommends researching the people most acutely affected by climate change and working backwards.
If you believe, as People and Planet do, that fossil fuels are the root causes of climate change the first step is to get acquainted with the people fighting to keep them in the ground, from Canada’s indigenous community in Tar Sands to the Colombians living near the Cerrejon Mine,” she says.
Their message is simple: keep it it ground. So for campaigners thousands of miles away, says Lopez, the first step is to stand in solidarity, but the second tangible thing you can do is to pressure businesses and banks to stop contributing to an industry destroying the communities around the world.
Power is with the people
The online petition site Change.org has hosted many successful campaigns – from a UK schoolgirl’s fight to keep climate change on the school curriculum to the action to stop the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Change.org says all of its campaigns start with ordinary people campaigning on an issue that has affected them personally or that they feel passionately about, before realising others share their plight.
Lopez also believes the “power is with the people” and says that while signing a petition is the simplest way to get involved, others have more to add. “If you are going to organise an event locally it’s key to build people’s confidence and be interested in their skills,” she says. Amazing campaigns, including climate camp, began after people took the time to talk, listen and collaborate with their communities, says Lopez.