Strategic nonviolent action on climate change

Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port
Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port

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:

  1. a common (not necessarily single) target: eg. MP offices, parliament house, etc.
  2. 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.
  3. a consistent message, Eg. need to not squabble over 25% vs 30% vs 40% vs 50% cuts
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

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