Billboards telling us to live more sustainably are everywhere. Whether it’s a billboard plastered with the new vegan burger, or the latest electric car, conglomerates are instructing us to change our lives at every turn. But behind each campaign, lies a marketing campaign, profiting off a human desire to do better.
aware_ presents 5 climate change organisations resisting the urge to make a profit, instead encouraging that with protest, engaging in politics, and advocating for human rights, we can hope to achieve climate justice.
A report by the UN indicates that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women (UN), an issue only becoming more severe with time. A report by author Balgis Osman-Elasha demonstrates that women’s vulnerability to climate change is dependent on social, economic and cultural factors. Traditionally a woman’s role in culture, whether that be in terms of decision making, limited access to land, and often lessened access to technology, proves that women are shown to be more vulnerable than men. Rise Up Movement is a global network founded in 2009 to activate women and girls to create a just and equitable world in the face of climate change. As a climate justice organisation, their group of 600 leaders “has successfully advocated for 120 new and improved laws and policies impacting 135 million people in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the U.S” (Rise Up). Through a digital storytelling methodology, Rise Up educates women on how to use their voices in order to reach decision-makers and trigger lasting change. PODER, a film about two Guatemalan girls’ fight to transform their community, is a powerful example of Rise Up’s storytelling. (Rise Up)
In October 2006, Alison mounted her bike and headed to Julie’s (a local restaurant) to meet friends, all of whom working in the creative industries. As is the case with most magical evenings of this type, the conversation turned to dreams of the future. Visions of music festivals powered by solar energy, museums powering local communities and venues becoming a centre for biodiversity were amongst the ideas thrown across the table. One overarching theme was established that evening: artists as a beacon for change and climate justice. In 2007 Julie’s Bicycle was founded: a leading climate justice charity working within the creative industries to combat the effects of climate change.
The organisation’s first research project, carried out with Oxford University, found that “the UK music market is responsible for approximately 540,000 tonnes CO2e annually”. Since then Julie’s Bicycle has worked with the Mayor of London to cut energy emissions 60% by 2025, founded the International Green Theatre Alliance (an initiative to help theatres adjust to a low-carbon economy), and launched the Creative Climate Leadership training programme – receiving over 200 applications from 40 countries.
It’s no secret that youths will be disproportionally affected by climate change. The American youth organisation Sunrise Movement is on a mission to change this. Since 2017, the movement has vowed to force climate change as the primary election issue and persuade the governing powers to prioritise this issue. As a country with one of the largest environmental impacts – according to research America is responsible for 20% of the global carbon dioxide (Carbon Brief) – Sunrise Movement is campaigning to bring the Green New Deal to the centre of American politics. With politicians hard to reach, and often uncooperative, the Sunrise Movement arranged a sit-in in the offices of both Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Both sit-in’s brought widespread media attention to the group, videos of the event can be seen via this link from The New York Times.
Extinction Rebellion is a notoriously controversial climate justice organisation. The platform – also known as XR – was founded in the UK in 2018 by Roger Hallam, Simon Bramwell and Gail Bradbrook, alongside 8 other founding members of the campaign group Rising Up! Despite starting out as a non-violent protest group, Extinction Rebellion has become known for causing disruption to city life, in an attempt to trigger lasting change. Using methods such as sitting on roads to stop cars from using the roads or lying on trains during rush hour, the group have become increasingly extreme in their approach, as the climate crisis worsens. Much of their strategy has sparked public outrage – a poll in 2018 showed that 54% of young people were opposed to the group (BBC). The overriding question remains: is this level of press coverage simply bringing more awareness to climate justice issues, or will it deter people from taking action?
On 20th August 2018, Greta Thunberg skipped school. In ninth grade at the time, instead of embarking on a pilgrimage to the local mall, she went with a poster emblazoned with the words “school strike for climate” to stand in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. It wasn’t until the 9th September, when the Swedish general election would address the heat waves and wildfires, that Thunberg would return to school. During this time of stoic protest, Thunberg planted the seed for the FridaysForFuture movement, a group that would go on to garner worldwide media attention, inspiring students across the world to protest for climate justice. After 3 years of the movement gaining momentum, which saw Thunberg gain a place on the global stage, the climate strikes on 24th September 2021 were held in over 1400 locations across the globe. In Berlin, Thunberg addressed over 100,000 protesters with a clear message: “No political party is doing enough”.
– by Eliza Edwards