On September 8th there will be events all over the world under the heading ‘Rise up for the Climate’.
A coalition are planning a march and rally in Bristol. Have a look, there’s probably one near you.
Meanwhile, I’m standing for election as a jobshare with Britta Goodman in the Green Party for the job of campaigns co-ordinator. Whether or not we get this job, we are working on a national campaign strategy for the Green Party.
We are consulting Chris Rose, who has tremendous experience of planning successful campaigns for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and using his book ‘How to Win Campaigns’. I think in the past I have sometimes been guilty of the ‘expressive’ attitude to campaigns – that is, you get to go and express your wishes, or anger or despair, in banners and shouting…. This is not going to be effective unless a lot of other things are also happening. Another ineffective one is the ‘let me educate you’ approach.
Chris emphasises planning a strategy that identifies your issue, the desired outcome, the mechanisms by which it can be achieved, the audience and the forms of communication – and that communication is two way. It involves listening.
Instead of trying radically to change hearts and minds, you appeal to what is already there. People’s sense of justice. Their experience. Their love for each other.
I’ve been thinking about the campaigns I have been involved in, and trying to learn from them. Here are three of them:
CND – goal: unilateral disarmament. Not achieved. It did mobilise thousands and raise consciousness, but when there was no visible signal of emergency, people stopped worrying – even though the danger from nuclear weapons is now greater than ever. Lesson: focus on visible signs of climate change in the lives of target audience.
Family Allowances Campaign, part of Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s – it did succeed in reinstating cash distributed at the post office (usually went to the mother) instead of replacing it with tax credits – which usually went to men. It united women across all class backgrounds. Lessons: a clear achievable demand. And whatever our backgrounds, parents – and others too – can be united through concern for children.
Anti-Poll Tax Campaign in the 90s: the overarching goal was replacing the unfair £400 a head poll tax with a local tax where you paid more if you had more. Big tactic: to slow down the courts. We took over the corridors, we strung out the procedure. People didn’t pay because they couldn’t, but the obvious injustice gave them courage. It succeeded, and brought down Thatcher into the bargain. Lesson: show the injustice: climate change affects poor people most. We know it does, but is that evident in the UK – yet?
We need to show that climate change is not a distant threat, that it will affect you and those you love, if not already, in the near future
That something can be done about it – that you can do something about it
We demand that the Government make this a priority (and here we need detailed targets)
For the sake of our children
I hope that in a few weeks time the group I am working with will have come up with a definite strategy for a national climate change campaign for the Green Party…
Meanwhile, let’s Rise Up for Climate Justice on September 8th