‘Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.
Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.’
Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, Tweet
Climate activism has become a broad term to cover actions such as protesting, campaigning, petitions, lifestyle changes, influencing friends and family, and lobbying world leaders. It is encouraging to see so many people aware of the climate crisis and want to make a real, radical change. But what activism is currently happening?
Here are five examples of how diverse climate activism can be.
Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation
Approximately 8,000 indigenous people protested in Brasilia for ten days at the start of April. They organised a second protest march on Congress, protesting President Jair Bolsonaro’s government legislation. This legislation would open their protected lands to commercial mining and agriculture.
Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation, APIB, focuses on mobilising indigenous people, advocating for indigenous rights in policymaking (on the environment, human rights, legislation, participation and sustainability), strengthening alliances with the international indigenous movement, and having solidarity with other social networks and causes.
Even though indigenous people are 5% of the global population, they protect 82% of global biodiversity. Therefore it is a grave injustice that there are currently no indigenous elected officials in the Brazilian government. Their fight is ours too.
Check out our latest podcast episode for more discussion around this protest and our role in advocating for indigenous rights in Brazil.
Mikaela Loach is a 23-year-old climate activist part way through her medical degree. She is a social media influencer, but she has engaged with multiple groups, such as Extinction Rebellion and Climate in Colour. In the past year, she took the UK government to court for using public money to pay for the oil and gas industry in her Paid to Pollute campaign. Especially since the Paris Agreement, the government has paid £4 billion to the North Sea oil and gas companies out of the public’s money.
‘I’d changed all the lifestyle choices. I’d done non-violent direct action. I’d petitioned, I’d campaigned, I’d emailed my MP’ jillions’ of times […] and it got to the point of last resort where I realised that they aren’t listening… so we’re going to have to take them to court.’
–Mikaela Loach, Sky News interview
Loach has a wealth of influence from her climate activism. Still, fundamentally she has realised the importance of system change – alongside protest and collective action. You can check out more of her campaigns and public activism on her Instagram @mikaelaloach or listen to ‘The Yikes podcast’.
Just Stop Oil
Just Stop Oil is a collaboration of groups working to end the government’s proposal of new fossil fuel projects. They have been campaigning against oil tankers and oil terminals in the Midlands and South-East of England for over two weeks in April. Their long-term aim is for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to end new fossil fuel projects. These are the proposed oil field in the Shetland, a deep coal mine in Cumbria (first in the UK for 30 years), and an oil extraction project in Surrey Hills.
`We’re doing this because our government is refusing to act on the climate crisis, and we need to have a meaningful statement that we will have no new fossil fuel projects; it’s that simple,‘
– Nathan, activist from Just Stop Oil, Twitter.
Just Stop Oil has taken action with at least 11 different fuel depots across the UK, with many arrested, fined, or imprisoned. The police also made 38 arrests at a supporting protest led by the Extinction Rebellion on Lambeth Bridge, which halted traffic till 6 pm. They have mixed reactions, with one activist experiencing accusations of disrupting without impact on Good Morning Britain. However, a recent poll from the Social Change Lab found that 58% of UK adults support Just Stop Oil’s demands to end investment in fossil fuel extraction.
Chihiro Geuzebroek is Bolivian-Dutch with Quechua ancestry and is a grassroots activist, creative songwriter and community organiser. She is also the Director and Producer of Radical Friends and co-founder of Aralez Foundation, a pan-decolonial network and grassroots organisation in Amsterdam. The vision of the Aralez Foundation is not to gain more representation or inclusion within a colonial system but ‘aim for a fundamental change and a radical change of values‘.
Geuzebroek’s song Shell Must Fall, drawing from the Rhodes Must Fall movement, focuses on bringing a decolonial agenda to climate justice and practices. The Shell Must Fall campaign website states their plan that ‘in the midst of a climate emergency, the last thing we need is shareholders of an oil giant meeting to discuss how they are going to maximise their profits’. They are calling to dismantle Shell, ensure reparations, provide a just transition and build energy democracy.
Many governments, organisations and grassroots movements recognise the role that faith-based groups play in decision-making as they advocate for their communities. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to see climate action in response to the crisis. They strongly believe the Church has a prophetic role to play in leading on climate justice.
They play multiple roles within the Church, providing theological resources on the climate, as well as introducing the idea of Climate Sundays in churches as part of their Bright Now campaign. Operation Noah successfully persuade churches to disinvest from fossil fuel companies. Their campaign’s success is that more than 140 UK Churches and Christian organisations announced their full divestment from fossil fuel companies. Out of 1,500 global divestment commitments, this accounts for nearly 10%.
So what about you?
Are you looking to become more involved in climate activism? Are you unsure where to start?
Join in with us! We are calling on the UK Government to ensure that finance is delivered to climate-vulnerable communities. Sign our petition now asking the UK Government to tell higher-income nations it’s time to deliver.