On the train today I was mulling over what a strategic campaign of NVDA might look like on climate change, rather than just a bunch of random symbolic actions (good as they are).
It seems to me that NVDA plays a strategic role when it exerts pressure on the political system.
For this to happen, it would need a few things:
- a common (not necessarily single) target: eg. MP offices, parliament house, etc.
- a sustained time period. Think Franklin, think Kiev (Orange Revolution), think Nashville lunch counter sit-ins. Eg. actions every day for a week or longer. Individual actions are like individual marches: they raise awareness but nothing else.
- a consistent message, Eg. need to not squabble over 25% vs 30% vs 40% vs 50% cuts
- a form of action that supports rather than weakens the formal channel lobbying of the big ENGOs and the like. Eg. not only ‘nonviolent’ but fairly peaceful, sit-ins not lock-ons.
- a reasonable number of people (obviously the more people the more effective). Eg. distributed actions across Aust makes it easier for more people to be mobilised.
- a careful choice of timing, eg. the current policy window I suppose has two sub-windows: now to late Oct (before White Paper is finalised), then from Jan-Mar (between the White Paper and legislation entering parliament). My sense is that a sustained campaign of NVDA would be better towards the end of a policy window, as a culmination of activity.
- lastly, some people to take a loose organising/facilitating role in promoting the thing.
If these are true, what kind of campaign might we be looking at? Here’s a possibility:
A week (or month) long “emergency action to save the planet” campaign, targeting MP offices around the country with groups of 10-20 doing (calm) sit-ins, with at least one action every day, all with a simple message that Australia must make the cuts necessary to lead the world in stopping runaway climate change.
I’m imagining the ABC newsreader saying something like: “Another 25 people were arrested today in nationwide protests against the government’s climate change targets. After 6 days of protests, over 100 people have now been arrested in what organisers are calling a month-long campaign of emergency action to save the planet. The Prime Minister today said he would not be pressured by the protests into increasing the government’s 10% target but Greenpeace CEO Steve Shallhorn said the actions demonstrate that the Australian community is demanding a more urgent response to climate change.”
What do you think? I mean aside from me living in dreamland!
One thought on “Strategic nonviolent action on climate change”
[…] Before turning to the analysis, I’ve also given some preliminary thought to some of the issues behind making such a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience strategic, rather than merely symbolic. You can read those thoughts here. […]
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