Eight resolutions for the climate movement

OK, so firstly we should clarify – what even is the climate movement?

This is a tricky question in itself. There is what it is, and what some think it is, and what it could be.

Broadly, it could be concerned citizens who care about the impacts of climate change on the earth and its inhabitants, and are doing something about it.

For many, it has been siloed too long as a greenie concern, when it is (and needs to be) so much more than that.

It could, and should be a movement of movements.

That dialogue is finally moving and the fabric of different movements is being woven together.

The reason Flood the System resources resonated with many in the grassroots of climate activism in Australia was simply because it was actually talking about climate in the way it should be.

A symptom of a diseased capitalist system. Its not earth separate from us, it is what we have done to it. And it should be about economic and social and climate justice. It needs to be about justice for first nations peoples, but it should not overshadow, or seek to subsume their priority struggles, but give strength and support to them.

Here are some resolutions I would like to see the climate movement, and those with resources in particular, thinking about.

Demonstrate real solidarity

Everyone was excited at the broadening of the movement in recent marches, with some great coalition building work happening but solidarity is not just when you want something. Support the next battle for wage increases, find out why the firefighters have been waiting more than 1000 days for an agreement and how we can support them rather than just want them to be in our pictures. Think about how to genuinely work with faith groups, and support first nations struggles. We can do better.

Employ blackfellas

You know how some of you didn’t know where to go, or who to ask when looking to involve first nations peoples in the Peoples Climate March? Not only should the physical resources of this predominantly white middle class movement be shared with people most impacted, but the movement will benefit from the richness that true diversity will bring. Pay them, and listen to them.

Let’s get better at gender politics

There is still a hell of a lot of men in leadership and senior campaigner roles in the climate movement, yet many of the underpaid and grassroots organising roles are done by women. Value their work more. Pay them properly. As in with real full time positions with benefits, not contract work – want to work in solidarity with unions? Well have a think about what a union would think about your internal staff policies. If they would take issue, then you should too. If you can’t afford to treat people properly, then you need to find more money.

If you are a white, middle class educated, cis man in the climate movement, do more minutes. Write more, talk less. Yes, even you old guys. It doesn’t matter if you are ‘bad’ at them. Get better. And how about doing some group admin? (there is a whole new post on that to come)

And while we are talking about gender, lets acknowledge that not everyone conforms to a binary world view of gender – let’s make our spaces more inclusive for queer and trans people.

Let’s talk about the weather

It’s the basis of polite chit chat all over the globe. Why don’t we use that to our advantage? Don’t be scared to be called ambulance chasers.

People are going to die this summer because of the policies of successive governments and profiteering corporations. Communities will be razed and destroyed. We simply have to start calling it what it is. Having been involved in anti nuclear campaigning for a number of years I believe that the anti nuclear movement didn’t use Fukushima well – to really open up conversations about that toxic industry. That some climate advocates seem emboldened to talk about nuclear as viable option again is in part on us. Why weren’t we more strident in naming that as the ultimate crime of environmental and social justice? That should have been an end point for the industry. Yes, there has been impact on the uranium industry but we could have bolstered it. Climate justice advocates need to speak up when we keep hitting record temperatures, or fires burn out of control.

Be brave, and build stronger alliances

Step outside your comfort zone. Those of us at the grassroots need to get better at talking to our allies in the big green groups. They have much to learn from us, and we from them too. Build coalitions that can withstand storms. Understand that a diversity of tactics genuinely benefits our movement.

Stop with the tall poppy syndrome, build leadership

Ironically this is worse at the grassroots, and across progressive and radical politics in Australia, and worldwide, there is some really unhealthy dynamics that punish people for showing leadership. Whilst many of us might support flat structures and non hierarchical decision making, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need leadership. Support people who step up, and encourage young people, marginalised people, and women in particular to do so.

Give people pathways to take bold action

They are ready. Seriously, they are. Whilst we do need a diversity of tactics, for far too long, the resources, and weight of the movement has been focused on in the tent politics. No one can seriously be happy with where that has got us? I have trained many hundreds of people for nonviolent direct action in the last few years, as have others around the country. The vast majority of them are not “usual suspects” … they are smart people who have a shared view and its quite simple – an emergency situation requires an emergency response. When the planet is literally on fire the only truly reasonable course of action is to intervene. Work with me to build pathways for people to take more brave and bold actions. Our movement will benefit immensely as well as the individuals involved, who will finally feel that their action matches their level of concern.

Be kind

This should be simple right? Why does the climate movement need to be kind? Because we forget we are on the same side often. Yes, it is devastating when you feel betrayed by your allies, and your work feels marginalised or devalued as a result, but lets start from the basic premise that we are all working with good intentions. Lets debate, and challenge each other, lets be robust and vibrant in our discussions, but lets work from kindness, and an acknowledgement that we all care deeply, and are in it for the right reasons. This one, in particular, I am going to try harder at – and I hope you will join me.


So there you have it – these are eight resolutions that are top of mind for me, though I acknowledge there are likely many more – what resolutions would you make for the climate movement?