As major polluters and industrial countries continually postpone commitments to reduce carbon emissions, climate change activists are stepping up their efforts.
The increased direct and disobedient activism is a reflection of the growing frustration and disillusion with policy makers to confront climate change. A poll taken by the Guardian in April of 2009 reveals, “Almost nine out of 10 climate scientists do not believe political efforts to restrict global warming to 2C will succeed.” Most expect “an average rise of 4-5C by the end of this century,” a level which will almost certainly lead to global catastrophe.
One of the most noteworthy recent actions on behalf of climate was the 2007 infiltration of the Kingsnorth facility by British Greenpeace activists. The six environmental campaigners scaled one of the smokestacks while fellow activists on the grounds cut off electricity to the plant. NASA’s Jim Hansen came to their appealed on their behalf in court by arguing their actions constituted “necessity defense” – that these activists were breaking laws in order to avoid greater harm in the future. The jury agreed and let them free of charges.
As climate change rapidly worsens and activist networks strengthen we can expect major increases in direct action and civil disobedience in the movement. Leaders such as Al Gore have publically announced the necessity for civil disobedience to halt coal burning plants. NASA’s Jim Hansen, along with many other climate activists have personally been arrested during protest.
Global online movements such as 350.org have also rapidly reached and connected activists around the world, and it appears they have built momentum capable of generating similar results as the unified groups during the 1999 Seattle protests, which effectively blocked a WTO meeting.