Climate activism: Rallying to protect the planet’s future

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Climate activism: Rallying to protect the planet’s future

Climate activism: Rallying to protect the planet’s future

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As more threats emerge due to climate change, climate activism is growing interventionist branches.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • July 6, 2022

    As the consequences of climate change reveal themselves, climate activists have changed their strategy to draw the world’s attention to climate change.

    Climate change activism context

    Climate activism has developed in parallel with a growing awareness of climate change within the public’s consciousness. Anxiety over the future and anger at policymakers and corporate polluters is common among millennials and Gen Z. According to data provided by the Pew Research Center in May 2021, more than six in 10 Americans believe that the federal government, major corporations, and the energy industry are doing too little to stop climate change. Anger and desperation have led many groups to forego the polite versions of activism, such as silent protests and petitions. 

    For example, interventionist activism is prominent in Germany, where citizens have created barricades and treehouses to thwart plans to clear forests like Hambach and Dannenröder. Though their efforts have produced mixed results, the resistance displayed by climate activists is likely to only intensify over time. Germany has further experienced mass protests like Ende Gelände as thousands enter pit mines to block digging equipment, block rails transporting coal, and so forth. In some cases, fossil fuel-related equipment and infrastructure have also been destroyed. Likewise, planned pipeline projects in Canada and the United States have also been affected by a growing radicalism, with trains carrying crude oil stopped by activists and court action launched against these projects. 

    Disruptive impact

    As the effect of climate change intensifies, traditional climate change activism may increasingly move towards interventionism if the pace of change is perceived to be too slow. Politically, parties doing too little environmentally can be expected to lose public support from their base, particularly among younger voters who feel strongly about the issue. 

    Meanwhile, as the fossil fuel industry faces infrastructural damages and even lawsuits, their efforts to speed up their transition towards greener projects can be expected to increase. However, changing energy demand trends and geopolitical events, such as the 2022 war in Ukraine, may slow the pace of planned change due to energy supply disruptions. Oil and gas companies may also struggle to hire younger employees as they may view the industry as a primary cause of climate change. 

    Implications of climate activism turning interventionist 

    The wider implications of climate activism intensifying toward interventionism may include: 

    • More student groups forming on campuses worldwide, seeking to recruit members to intensify future climate change protest efforts. 
    • Extremist climate activist groups increasingly targeting oil and gas sector facilities, infrastructure, and even employees with acts of sabotage or violence.
    • Political candidates in select jurisdictions and countries shifting their positions to support views held by younger climate change activists. 
    • Fossil fuel companies gradually transitioning towards green energy production models and coming to compromises with protests on specific projects, especially those contested in various courts of law.
    • Renewable energy firms experiencing increased interest from skilled, young college graduates seeking to play a part in the world’s transition to cleaner forms of energy.

    Questions to comment on

    • Do you believe that climate activism makes a significant difference in the positions taken by fossil fuel companies regarding their transition to renewable energy?
    • Do you think the destruction of fossil fuel infrastructure is morally justified?  

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: