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Activism in sustainability transitions and transitions in environmental activism Kelvin Mason September 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Activism in sustainability transitions and transitions in environmental activism Kelvin Mason September 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Activism in sustainability transitions and transitions in environmental activism Kelvin Mason September 2012

2 Signpost slide Sustainability transition? – Possible green activism futures What we mean by ‘activism’? What green activism is happening? Key recent moments for green activism Who are ‘we’, what unites us, what our values, what are our politics, what should be our strategies...

3 Sustainability transition? Or transition to catastrophe as an everyday, if geographically uneven, reality? – environmental disaster – economic instability – social unrest

4 What activism to expect? Increasingly radical strategies and ever more militant tactics? Environmental, economic and social damage limitation? Diverse, disjointed activism – as usual? Or perhaps the time for activism which can be considered environmental has past?

5 ‘Pollution has become boring. Catastrophic weather has become routine. Environmental scares are now as commonplace as TV ads for starving children – none of it shocks us anymore. Fatigue has set in.’ Kalle Lasn (Adbusters)

6 Scoping activism Citizenly and civil society direct action, lobbying, and action through the courts Also ‘green class action’ o Not government strategies, individual lifestyle or behaviour change, nor intentional communities

7 What’s still going and what’s new? Climate Camp is dead... – Climate Justice Collective Grow Heathrow threatened with eviction Greenpeace actions against Shell’s Arctic oil drilling FOE campaign to protect bee population Earth First!, Rising Tide, Plane Stupid... Frack Off


9 Key moments for Green activism? COP 15 Copenhagen 2009 Global financial/economic crises – Occupy, UK Uncut... COP16 and the Cochabamba Agreement Peak oil deferred (again)

10 Building Bridges Collective What unites us (on a deeper level)? How can we become solid enough to withstand repression and internal divisions? o But who is ‘us’? The movement has to determine its identity and it allies:  States, political parties, NGOs, ‘The Left’, Neo-Environmentalists, Hierarchies...

11 Opportunity missed? A movement able to challenge capitalism’s destructive hegemony and avert environmental disaster: – Whether ‘climate justice’ can be the banner under which this ‘other’ movement occurs is open to question... (Russell et al., 2012)

12 What does unite Green activists? What are our values? What are our politics? Can we become a coherent, committed movement? What should be our strategic focus?

13 Our values? A sense of the intrinsic value of nature? A view of community as trans-human, biotic or eco-centric? Limits thinking? Rationality and reason?

14 Our politics? Is capitalism or empiricism the antithesis of environmentalism? Do we need to make space for an affective green politics? Do we need a green theory of justice? Is limits thinking a sound basis for environmentalism? Millenarianism?

15 Our strategy? Vernacular environmentalism: an engagement not with ‘the environment’, but with everyday, lived environments? Can our allies include nation-states, hierarchical environmental organisations and even corporations? Can environmentalism develop conceptually from taking collaborative direct action?

16 ‘Going to Glastonbury music festival is not, in itself, political activism. And that’s even if you spend the whole time in the Greenpeace field.... Action makes you feel better. Taking any kind of positive action is the only way to deal with feeling distraught and frustrated at the government.’ Josie Long

17 Some points to ponder Antithesis of environmentalism – Capitalism or empiricism? Critique of limits thinking (economism?) – Millenarianism, austerity, frugality, resilience... More than human community – Connection, care, stewardship... Towards a Green theory of justice /equity Everyday, lived, vernacular environmentalisms – How to avoid exclusionary localism?

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