How to Win At Climate Activism, From A Republican


Years of stagnation following the failed federal climate legislation in 2009, COP21 in Paris signaled a new era of energy, optimism and action for the U.S. climate movement.

Do we have a concrete plan to back it up? The narrative of climate success has run into a familiar tune– obsolete strategies designed to play to the media and activists which ultimately fail to protect the planet.

For a better approach, we can look to successful movements like forest protection for inspiration. Brands from Nestle to Disney to Unilever have made huge commitments to transform timber and agriculture across the globe. The effort will take years, but with help from groups like Greenpeace, RAN and WWF the systems are in place to engage and incentivize real, meaningful progress.

Breaking the Cycle

In the stage play of climate change, the players continue to take their roles as they have for decades. Environmentalists and activists are the champions in the script, predictably blocked by the villainous GOP and Big Oil while receiving well-meaning but ineffectual support from the Democratic party. There is little hope of breaking character when the political, financial and media systems are built to keep these roles intact.

This kind of messaging muddles the efforts of corporations like Exxon to advocate for carbon tax. Big oil commitments are met with skepticism and disbelief, leading to more halfhearted negotiations and circular rhetoric. The only way to end the cycle is to remember how to care– shift the focus away from party lines and recognize real progress.

The solutions are already there for companies and policymakers to take action: Stop tearing down the world’s remaining natural forests. Restore degraded ecosystems and adopt agricultural practices which sequester carbon underground. Put a federal price on carbon and use the proceeds to cut taxes on income and small business. Ask companies to set internal carbon prices. Research renewable energy and let the market find the best solutions.

Will companies comply? Not if we don’t ask them to. It’s time to break the roles written for us and take real action.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.


Blog posts by Bill: