It’s a great pleasure to welcome our guest blogger Emily Farnworth, Co-founder and Director of Counter Culture. Emily reveals why there’s new hope for climate campaigning.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was a defining moment for climate change campaigners. Unfortunately, it was not a good one. A global deal for addressing climate change was not reached. And instead of creating momentum for action, the summit turned “climate” into a dirty word that mainstream media pushed off their front pages.
But, it looks as though a second chance is on the horizon.
During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama left no doubt about his intent to act “now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
It is not just the commitment that it is important. Obama has crafted a story about a better world. The narrative calls for energy security, creating jobs, building resilience in the face of extreme weather and securing a safe future for our children.
Obama’s story does not depend on people having a deep understanding of the science behind climate change. It connects with people in a different way. It touches people as they think about their loved ones fighting in a war over oil, losing a job, suffering flooding in their home, watching their fields shrivel up after months of drought – and fearing for what life will like be for their children and grandchildren.
There is a huge opportunity to build on the momentum that Obama has created in the US. It is time to pull out all the stops. This is the moment for campaigners to play their role to ensure we create a tipping point for a low carbon economy.
Many campaigns are already on the move. Having learned the lessons of Copenhagen, activists are abandoning their obsession with stark scientific facts [2° Celsius, tonnes of CO2, parts per million] and are leading, instead, with an emotional connection to the issue of climate change.
Bill McKibben (see our blog New math for climate skeptics) is focused on rallying support where it really matters – in America’s colleges and communities. His Go Fossil Free initiative is clear and unapologetic. It is a sign that going back to grassroots campaigning and building relationships with individuals is key to getting the outcome we want.
Beating people around the head with the blunt facts about climate science has got us only so far. It is time to learn the lessons of 2009 and craft more sophisticated campaigns. We need to tell stories to connect with people on an emotional level. We need to reach wider audiences – and create dialogues that are meaningful to them. We need to craft focused, effective and targeted messaging that creates real action.
We need to communicate climate change in a way that ensures we do not waste this second chance.