Hearts and minds will not be won with protest puppetry, guerrilla gardening and talk of ‘climate justice’
Over the past few days, I have watched members of the Extinction Rebellion movement block bridges, disrupt public transport and lock themselves to lorries. I have been moved by their bravery and inspired by their message, but puzzled by their strategy. On the face of it, the rebels have been effective. They have disrupted major cities, gained publicity and built bonds of solidarity. But are they achieving their aim of building a more sustainable world?
According to Stanford University’s Doug McAdam, the climate change movement has historically been a failure when compared with other movements. Climate activists have struggled to engage politicians, been unable to build influential organisations, and failed to connect with the wider public. The Extinction Rebellion may mark a turning point. The rebels have injected a sense of urgency and emotion back into the issue of climate change, but creating meaningful and long-lasting change requires more. A movement must reach out beyond true believers and connect with a wider base of potential supporters – wherever they might be found on the political spectrum.