Action

From ScienceForSustainability
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Getting technical and social measures deployed to mitigate and adapt to climate change requires personal, political, economic and/or legal actions.

See also:

Personal Action

Actions which people can take individually which have the greatest direct effect in mitigating climate change are:

  1. having fewer, or no, children
  2. stopping or reducing air travel
  3. eating less, or no, meat and dairy, especially from ruminants (cows and sheep)
  4. reducing or stopping car travel.

Most of us can also take important indirect actions.

Economic action

See also carbon pricing

Leading insurers tell G20 to stop funding fossil fuels by 2020 Karl Mathiesen; The Guardian; 30 Aug 2016

Three of the world’s biggest insurers have called on G20 leaders to implement a timeframe for ending fossil fuel subsidies when they meet in China this week.
G20 members contribute $160-$200bn each year to the production of coal, oil and gas, according to the OECD.

Europe threatens U.S. with carbon tariffs to combat climate change Zack Colman; Politico; 13 Dec 2019

European countries frustrated by inaction on climate change are taking a lesson from President Donald Trump’s trade wars — and threatening carbon tariffs on laggards like the United States.
By imposing tariffs on goods from the U.S. and other countries that lack tough climate policies, the Europeans would help their own industries avoid being handicapped by the EU’s greenhouse gas efforts. But if they hit the U.S., they would risk a worsening trade war with the Trump administration, which has already threatened hefty tariffs on goods such as French champagne and German autos over a range of competition disputes.

Divestment

There are many campaigns calling for investors to divest from fossil fuel companies. In January 2020 a student-led action at St John's College, Oxford, called for the college to divest from fossil fuel investments. It was met by a response from the bursar, Andrew Parker, refusing the student's demands but offering instead to shut off the heating to the building they were occupying.

A letter from the pressure group Harvard Faculty for Divestment offers support for the action:

20200208 Harvard Faculty for Divestment to St John College Oxford p1.jpg 20200208 Harvard Faculty for Divestment to St John College Oxford p2.jpg

Political action

See also Montreal Protocol

China’s climate actions turn the tables on American deniers Reuters; 26 Sep 2015

How a selfish world can still avoid catastrophic climate change New Scientist; 26 Oct 2015

Each country generally defines “fair” according to what will mean the least effort for them, says Malte Meinshausen at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Getting them all to agree on that point seems utopian, he says. “Every country agreed to a 2°C or lower climate target, and they all make up their own story about why their own target is fair,” says Meinshausen. But the voluntary pledges to cut national greenhouse gas emissions made ahead of December’s climate summit in Paris aren’t enough to keep warming below 2°C. So Meinshausen and colleagues looked at what is needed to reach the target and how to get nations to agree to them, allowing for every country to define “fair” the way that burdens them the least. The team’s imagined scenario involves one country or group of countries leading with ambitious emissions cuts, and every other country following. But each follower country interprets its fair contribution according to what costs it the least. “If any country wants to claim to be a leader – and they all say that they’re a leader – this is now the first litmus test,” says Meinshausen.

National post-2020 greenhouse gas targets and diversity-aware leadership Malte Meinshausen, Louise Jeffery, Johannes Guetschow, Yann Robiou du Pont, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Niklas Höhne, Michel den Elzen, Sebastian Oberthür & Nicolai Meinshausen; Nature Climate Change; 26 Oct 2015

Earth Hour: Turning out the lights plays into the hands of our critics George Marshall; The Guardian; 27 Mar 2009

In my 25 years of environmental campaigning I have seen lots of inspired protests and lots of daft or pointless ones. But the WWF Earth Hour campaign has to be one of the most misguided and counterproductive actions I have ever seen.

What Do the Presidential Candidates Know about Science? Christine Gorman; Scientific American; 13 Sep 2016

Clinton, Trump and Stein answer 20 top questions about science, engineering, technology, health and environmental issues

Military Leaders Urge Trump to See Climate as a Security Threat Erika Bolstad, Climate Wire; Scientific American; 15 Nov 2016

a bipartisan group of defense experts and former military leaders sent Donald Trump’s transition team a briefing book urging the president-elect to consider climate change as a grave threat to national security.
The Center for Climate & Security in its briefing book argues that climate change presents a risk to U.S. national security and international security, and that the United States should advance a comprehensive policy for addressing the risk. The recommendations, released earlier this year, were developed by the Climate and Security Advisory Group, a voluntary, nonpartisan group of 43 U.S.-based senior military, national security, homeland security and intelligence experts, including the former commanders of the U.S. Pacific and Central commands.
The briefing book argues that climate change presents a significant and direct risk to U.S. military readiness, operations and strategy, and military leaders say it should transcend politics. It goes beyond protecting military bases from sea-level rise, the military advisers say. They urge Trump to order the Pentagon to game out catastrophic climate scenarios, track trends in climate impacts and collaborate with civilian communities. Stresses from climate change can increase the likelihood of international or civil conflict, state failure, mass migration and instability in strategically significant areas around the world, the defense experts argue.

Rex Tillerson Suggests The U.S. Should Stay In Paris Climate Agreement Alexander C. Kaufman; Huffinton Post; 11 Jan 2017

Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, hinted on Wednesday that he would support keeping the United States in the historic Paris climate agreement. Asked during his Senate confirmation hearing whether the U.S. should maintain its commitments in the accord, the former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive said the 180-country deal allows the country to influence the necessary “global response” to climate change. “It’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table with the conversations around how to deal with the threats of climate change,” he said.

How to Resist an Unjust Regime Nonviolently John Horgan; Scientific American blogs; 18 Nov 2016

Gene Sharp advocates nonviolent activism for practical rather than moral or spiritual reasons. He rejects religious exhortations that we should turn the other cheek and love our enemies. People in power often deserve to be despised and fought, he contends, but violence, even in the service of a just cause, often causes more problems than it solves, leading to greater injustice and suffering. Hence the best way to oppose an unjust regime is through nonviolent action.

What does climate change look like through the eyes of a politician? Rebecca Willis; Inside Track - Green Alliance blog; 18 Sep 2017

I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue. But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.

Major coal company committed to climate change breaks ties with industry groups Climate Action; 21 Dec 2017

BHP Billiton, a British-Australian mining company has announced it will withdraw its membership from energy associations which don’t hold an active position on climate and energy policy, emphasising its commitment to take responsible action against global warming.
The mining company released a report where it reviewed the stance of all the industry associations where it currently is a member of, to check if the company’s values on the fight against climate change are reflected on the associations’ core strategy.
“As a major producer and consumer of fossil fuels, we recognise our responsibility to take action by focusing on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; adapting to the physical impacts of climate change; accelerating the development and deployment of low emissions technology; testing and building the resilience of our portfolio; and working with others, including academia, industry and governments, to enhance the global response to climate change”, reads the report.
It revealed that 21 of them hold an active position in the issue, but it raised concerns over three associations: the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), the US Chamber of Commerce and the World Coal Association.
Therefore, BHP Billiton announced its plans to exit the World Coal Association over the next year and warned the other two.

Conservatives

Time for Conservatives to Break the Anti-Environmentalist Mold HENRY CHAPPELL; The American Conservative; 18 Jan 2018

Do conservatives have a predisposed hostility towards environmental concerns?
With their preference for order, regard for their ancestors’ accomplishments, and instinctive revulsion towards Rousseauian notions of natural perfection, traditionalists recoil against what Pascal Bruckner called the environmentalist left’s “numberless Cassandras…[who] do not intend to warn so much as to condemn us,” while anointing the planet as the “new proletariat” that must be saved.
Yet when considered rationally, environmental issues actually call upon core conservative principles.
In How to Think Seriously About the Planet, philosopher Roger Scruton asserts that pollution and habitat destruction engage “a fundamental moral idea to which conservatives attach great importance: the idea that those responsible for damage should also repair it.” Conservatives oppose externalization of the costs of poor sexual and financial decisions, and likewise should resent their descendants being burdened with someone else’s environmental mess.
Nevertheless there has been a great effort to politicize the environmental issue and convince conservatives there is no real “mess” in the first place. Potential environmental problems raised by scientists are nearly always presented to the public by environmentalist organizations. The right, led by business interests, reacts. Industry-funded experts focus on refuting or blunting the environmentalist message. The same commentators who accuse scientists of exaggerating the dangers of climate change in order to keep research money flowing ostensibly place more confidence in the positions of industry-backed messengers who make arguments that keep their own own money flowing. Whether the accusation of exaggeration reflects partisanship, cynicism, or projection, it’s been very effective at thwarting responsible debate on the right and hardening the liberal conviction that conservatives are anti-science philistines.
This hasn’t always been the case. As historian Patrick Allitt points out in A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism, Republicans and Democrats worked together in the 1960s and 1970s to pass sweeping environmental legislation. Allitt writes: “Between 1969 and 1973, in a sustained burst of bipartisan cooperation, they transformed the politics of the environment more drastically than at any time before or since.”
Although President Richard Nixon had shown no interest in environmental issues prior to taking office, political realities forced him to support the National Environmental Policy Act and create a presidential Council on Environmental Quality. Voters needed no scientific explanation of what they’d seen and smelled for decades. Smog killed some 300 people in New York City in 1963. Angelenos lost their beloved mountain views to sickening yellow clouds, while the U.S. Public Health Service classified the hundred-mile stretch of the Trinity River below Dallas as “septic.” Lake Erie, long defiled by raw sewage and agricultural runoff, suffered huge fish kills. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River became an apocalyptic symbol of the times when it caught fire for the ninth time in recent decades.

The Daily 202: How a conservative think tank is trying to tackle climate change James Hohmann; Power Post; 27 Mar 2018

While President Trump is systematically rolling back his predecessor’s efforts to combat climate change, the conservative Hoover Institution is trying to address the reality of rising temperatures, higher sea levels and more extreme weather.
The center-right think tank, which is affiliated with Stanford University and home to GOP grandees like Condoleezza Rice, is pursuing a host of initiatives that treat climate change as a pressing national security challenge and a market failure that requires government intervention.
It’s a striking contrast to Washington, where the Paris accord has been abandoned, skeptics of established science hold some of the most important jobs in government and congressional Republicans long ago eschewed promises to seriously confront environmental disruption.
But here, the spirit of innovation that defines Silicon Valley trumps the ideological rigidity that reigns in the capital.
George Shultz, who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, embraces the idea of a carbon tax. He says this would free up private firms to find the most efficient ways to cut emissions. The 97-year-old chairs an energy policy task force at Hoover that, among other solutions, advocates for expanding nuclear power. “Let’s take out an insurance policy to protect against the risk of climate change,” Shultz said.
Gary Roughead, the former chief of naval operations, studies the consequences of global warming in the Arctic. This is causing polar ice caps to melt and, for all intents and purposes, opening a new ocean. That means trade routes will soon exist that are now blocked by ice. The retired admiral, one of only two people to ever command both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, believes the U.S. must prepare for and capitalize on this. That will require checking Russia’s expansionary push in the northern sea lanes.
James Mattis, who spent almost four years at Hoover between retiring from the Marines and leaving to becoming secretary of defense, has also described climate change as a national security threat, citing the rising sea levels and desertification. Lake Chad, for example, has shrunk by about 90 percent since 1990, causing the instability that fueled the rise of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Hoover has even hired an alumna of Barack Obama’s White House to focus on climate change. Alice Hill was a special assistant to the president and the senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council. Before that, she served as a judge and led a climate change task force at the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is a global problem, and it’s really a problem that needs attention from the highest levels of government,” Hill said during a day-long Hoover media roundtable on Monday. “It’s difficult to solve it with 50 states and all the municipalities trying to pull and row in one direction without somebody as a captain of the ship. … It’s here, and we need to address it.”

New conservative climate plans are neither conservative nor climate plans David Roberts; Vox; 5 Feb 2020

There is a convenient story about Republicans and climate policy circulating in Washington, DC, right now.
It goes like this: After years of denying climate science and under pressure from young voters, Republicans have finally turned to the task of designing policy to address climate change. They are developing measures in line with conservative ideals that will focus on markets, shrink the federal government, and avoid picking winners and losers. With such a policy offering, voters will have a choice between two different approaches to solving the climate crisis, rather than a choice between a party that wants to address the problem and one that doesn’t.
This story is convenient for conservatives because they have exhausted the strategy of lying about climate science and need something new to replace it. Denial has helped confuse the conversation and delay action in the US for 30 years, but the tide of public opinion is finally turning against it — and so is the opinion of younger Republicans. “Climate denial is a bad political strategy,” says 37-year-old Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
There is still a hard-core denialist faction, led by hapless clown and one-time Trump transition adviser Steve Milloy. But it has largely been banished, pushed out of the White House, its goofy plan to conduct a science show trial rejected. The strategy now, in the run-up to the 2020 election, is to appear to be doing something on climate.

Social action

#TalkingClimate Handbook: How to have conversations about climate change Climate Outreach

Having conversations about climate change in our daily lives plays a huge role in creating social change.
We take our cues about what's important from what we hear our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours talking about. Politicians also need strong social consent to implement successful climate policies.
But talking about climate change, especially beyond the green bubble, is hard. That's why we've produced an evidence-based, practical guide to help make those conversations easier and more meaningful - and to come out of them feeling inspired and connected.
Our new #TalkingClimate Handbook is the result of a collaboration with Climate-KIC. It is based in part on a citizen science project with over 550 individuals from over 50 countries that took place last summer. Participants joined several training webinars (see below) and fed back the results of their conversations to the project team.
The Handbook's advice is structured around the mnemonic REAL TALK:
  • Respect your conversational partner and find common ground
  • Enjoy the conversation
  • Ask questions
  • Listen and show you’ve heard
  • Tell your story
  • Action makes it easier (but doesn’t fix it)
  • Learn from the conversation
  • Keep going and keep connected

Popular action

We can try to influence governments and other bodies of power through 'popular' actions – actions carried out by many people together – such as campaigning, lobbying, demonstrations, violent or non-violent direct action etc.

Non-Violent Direct Action

See also Extinction Rebellion

The 3.5% rule: How a small minority can change the world David Robson; BBC; 14 May 2019

But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics – by a long way. Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Truth and its consequences: a memo to fellow rebels on smart strategy, and on soul Rupert Read; Jul 2019

IN LIEU OF A SUMMARY:
This pamphlet is an exercise in true-story-telling. It begins by underscoring the paramount importance of XR’s Demand 1: for telling the truth underscores everything else. And telling the truth begins at home: we must tell the truth about how dire things are, hard though it is. Only if we do so might we motivate enough widespread buy-in to the truly radical changes that will be needed to prevent (or at least ameliorate) collapse. With truthforce, anything is possible. Without it, game-over.
My pamphlet aims to tell this hard truth; and others:
I argue that in order to make the hard truth about how bad things are and how much and fast everything has to change palatable, we need to ensure that the citizenry understand that the privileged are not going to get away with not transforming along with the rest of us, and in fact that they are going to have to change more, give up more. Only such a promise of a relatively equal handling of the pain to come, as in World War II, will be acceptable. I therefore argue that our Rebellion — as well as aiming at the commonplace, as our taking of the bridges last year and especially our taking of public space in April did — must sometimes aim squarely at the elite, at the 1%.
Furthermore, I explain why, as we move further and further into the unknown of how successful XR could become, historical precedents become less and less relevant. In particular, the so-called 3.5% ‘rule’ is increasingly of questionable relevance to us; to actually effect the kind of vast swift system-change now needed to head off collapse, we will need to take a pretty large swathe of the 99% with us.
I draw from this some practical conclusions for this Autumn’s return to Rebellion: Principally, that in September we would be far better off targeting London City Airport, which is planning to expand much more than Heathrow, and whose short runway means that it is used by small jets taken almost exclusively by businessmen and the rich, than Heathrow. (I suggest too that relying on drones risks distracting the media and the public from the way in which our action against airport expansions is non-violent action. Even if, as is planned, we succeed in keeping our any use of drones resolutely non-violent, it is unlikely to be perceived that way.)
And that in October we should seek to shut down organs of Government and/or organs of financial capital.
What I’ve written contains great darkness and great light; it is imho not possible to offer a summary of this pamphlet, because the pamphlet aims to take the reader on a journey through those. It offers a narrative arc of thought and experience - much as our Rebellion in April did. Or much as a novel like War and Peace does.
There is no substitute for reading it. Right to the end.2
(Luckily, it’s a good bit shorter than War and Peace... ;-) Its main body is only about 8000 words… :-)

Hunger strike for climate justice Alex Armitage; BMJ opinion; 24 Jul 2019

On Sunday 14th July, my friend and former colleague Cliff Kendall, a British doctor who has worked his entire career post-F2 in the humanitarian sector, ate his last meal.
As I write, he has just begun the tenth day of a hunger strike, to highlight the UK government’s lack of action to tackle climate and ecological breakdown, the greatest threat to human health of our time.
With atmospheric CO­­2 levels at 415 parts per million, global heating is already causing extreme weather events and flooding that has devastated coastal communities, particularly in the global south. As the world heats further, ice will melt, sea levels will rise, crops will fail and billions of people will go hungry, forcing them to fight, migrate, or die.

Regenerative Culture

A Glossary of Regenerative Culture jenny andersson; Medium; 26 May 2019

As new ways of thinking and doing grow, a new language always grows with them. Here are many of the words, phrases and terms you’re likely to find in discussions about a regenerative future.