Recommendations for people wanting to take action on climate change?

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on October 4, 2021

I'm working on a video on climate change and it's pretty doomer pilled, so I'd like to add suggestions for people who want to take action on climate change. Trouble is I'm struggling to think of things to recommend.

I recently saw this article which says

Blockades, lobbying, media campaigns, and other forms of advocacy grounded in Indigenous rights have stopped or delayed nearly 1.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, or nearly 25% of the combined emissions of the United States and Canada, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International conclude

So pipeline blockades and other land defender, water protector, and indigenous solidarity work seems a good suggestion.

I recently listened to the Working Class History podcast on the green bans, when the builders' union in Australia would refuse to do construction projects that would harm the environment or community. The labor movement has incredible potential to stop climate change but it's in such a weak state. So recommending labor organizing to stop climate change seems more wishful thinking than realistic suggestion at the moment. I will suggest it, though, because hopefully this will take off at some point, and the potential is huge.

There's Extinction Rebellion but I'm not sure if it's effective. Perhaps that could change and maybe I'm just being cynical. I'm interested what others here think of it.

Taken as a whole this is a short and weak list of suggestions. Who has recommendations?

(I'd also like to include learning resources on the connection between capitalism and environmental harm, if you have suggestions, but try to stick to things suitable for newbies and non-academics.)

Lucky Black Cat

1 year 4 months ago

In reply to by

Here are resources I plan to add or will read later to consider adding

* The article I linked in the OP about indigenous land defenders having a significant reduction on CO2 emissions

* Working Class History's podcast/videos on Green Bans, part 1 and part 2

* Can someone recommend a shorter overview of the Green Bans? I'd like to include that as well as the WCH videos. I found this Jacobin article (haven't read it yet)

* Blog of the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus. I only just found it a few minutes ago so can't give an opinion on it

* ...other?

R Totale

1 year 4 months ago

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There was the Vestas wind turbine occupation, although it looks like libcom doesn't really have much on that: - a little bit more analysis of that here:

There's also the new Andreas Malm book, but I haven't read it so I can't say how good it is:

Libcom has a short article on the Green Bans:
Also this from Tribune (basically UK Jacobin, but they publish some good stuff):

There's also this (don't think I've read it, might've read an earlier version though):

Other than that, there's Out of the Woods, this might be relevant:

UK has the Green Anticapitalist Front but idk how active they are:

US seems to have a lot of anti-pipeline, resource extraction stuff going on, like:

Also on green syndicalist stuff, I think the Lucas Plan should be a key reference point:

On that note, at GKN at the moment there's a threatened car factory closure, where the workers are saying they could be making parts for electric vehicles instead:
I appreciate that, faced with the scale of climate change, a factory making parts for electric vehicles doesn't seem like the most exciting prospect, but it is still one small practical way to make a link between workers' struggles and environmentalism of some kind.


1 year 4 months ago

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See Book Review "Green Bans, Red Union" by Meredith and Verity Burgmann on archive section of regarding the unconscious syndicalist orientation and rise and fall of the rank and file movement in the NSW BLF and Green Bans


1 year 4 months ago

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Working class history have a great podcast about the green bans:

Working Class …

1 year 4 months ago

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Hey, thanks to those who mentioned our podcast. We've actually produced another video about working class environmentalism more generally, here:

That mentions the green bans more briefly, as well as some other historical examples like the oil and chemical workers union in the US in the 60s and 70, and efforts to unite environmentalists and loggers in the 80s and 90s, involving Judy Bari and others. So these are good examples.
As you say, supporting Indigenous struggles and struggles over Indigenous sovereignty are also of vital importance.
There are also plenty of other direct action campaigns over environmental issues, which people can take part in or support (or people can advocate for direct action tactics within more liberal campaigns). E.g. the anti-roads protests in the UK in the 90s, struggles over construction of things like airports, mines, etc (there are loads of this going on in China for example:
In terms of workplace organising, though, I think you are being overly pessimistic. Doing something massive like getting people to refuse to build a skyscraper over a park yes is a big thing which is perhaps not very likely. But most of us have jobs, and most pollution/environmental destruction is the result of processes happening in workplaces. So there are lots of things people can do on an individual basis to advocate for the adoption of more environmentally friendly policies in the workplace, alongside more standard workplace organising around pay, conditions and health and safety. Some union reps, for example, deal with pollution issues as a health and safety issue, and you can use health and safety legislation as a tool to help with this sometimes.
For example, on a personal level I've done very minor stuff at work but which has changed much more from an environmental perspective than any individual consumption choice I could make. It can depend on your workplace, but in an office environment, doing things like switching to paperless processes, as opposed to generating huge amount of printed materials can make a difference. Ensuring that refuse contractors hired by your employer actually recycle what they are supposed to etc. Replacing onerous work travel/meetings with remote working, increased working from home etc. You can also try to push your employer to do things like switch to renewable energy provider, install solar cells etc.

Lucky Black Cat

1 year 4 months ago

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Thanks everyone! YouTube video description has a character limit, so for the recommendations section I’ll just link to this thread.

Regarding the book suggestion How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm, I read a few reviews found this to be a compelling argument:

reviewer on amazon

Legal, respectable tactics have their place but the author believes that the climate movement needs a radical flank advocating and performing militant tactics that will scare the crap out of our world’s elites, who will then make concessions to movement moderates in order to take the steam out of the radicals.

another reviewer on amazon

The first section, "Learning From Past Struggles" (5-63) marshals historic evidence to show that the claims made by some activists about the strictly non-violent nature of certain social movements is inaccurate. From the movement against slavery, to the suffragettes, to the movement for Indian independence, to the Civil Rights Movement and the ANC in South Africa, the use of direct action involving property damage was in fact an important part of the tactical arsenal. Malm argues for the sociological social movement theory concept of the "radical flank effect" (Haines 1988) where a radical wing of a movement pushes the authorities to negotiate with and meet the demands of a more moderate wing.

I also asked for recommendations on twitter and got a reply from the twitter account, which I’ll quote here:


Building out from from indigenous activism, wider community action against specific ecologically destructive activity. One spectacular eg is this from 2012 in China, but also 1990s UK anti-roads mvmt which led to half the roads never being built
[article title: Huge protests force Chinese government retreat over pollution]

Also thought this from XR was very good and makes me think also about that time someone flew drones near Gatwick airport and got hundreds of flights cancelled

@libcomorg quote tweeted this from Extinction Rebellion

@XRebellionUK on October 2nd 2021

BREAKING @XRebellionUK activists have blocked all major entrances to #Farnborough Airport

Protestors are calling on the world's super-rich elite and governments to ditch private flights.

#Farnborough caters to the 1%. Private flyers cause half of aviation’s global emissions.

I also asked for recommendations on facebook. One of the comments is too long to quote here but I'll summarize. One person suggested veganism, which greatly reduces individual carbon footprint, but another person said this focuses on individual action rather than mass action. Someone replied saying: It's true that stopping global warming requires mass action. But vegans are correct to point out that the animal agriculture industry is a major contributor to climate change, yet is usually overlooked as we focus on the fossil fuel industry. So our activism should take a broader focus.

And finally, although this response doesn’t offer a practical recommendation it makes a good point:

While blockades to stop resource exploitation are great, over the entire world, the net impact would be that other resources would used instead - which could oil or could be solar depending on markets.

You either force capitalists, kicking and screaming, to globally regulate carbon emissions or you put an end to the whole system. And I'm a bit doubtful the regulate part could happen.

Lucky Black Cat

1 year 4 months ago

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Another reply from someone on facebook:

Community organising for better public transport? Would b good to see more of that & its both class struggle and environmental

Locally to me, I think there have been a few train lines reopened due to communities getting together to do it themselves. The Exeter to Okehampton line was run by a community group in summers for a few years and thanks to that has now been taken up by the train company who have restarted passenger services after a very long time not doing them (the "beeching axe" closed a lot of local lines decades ago)

Maybe some useable material here! It's not anarchist but its a grassroots campaign group with about 20,000 members in the UK. Here's what I was talking about in Devon -
Reopening railways is a huge deal as without it in a lot of places the only way to live there is to own a car (which also drives working class people out of areas, whole other issue there!)

R Totale

1 year 4 months ago

In reply to by

In terms of upcoming stuff, there's this:

I'm also fairly sympathetic to the Fridays for Future/youth climate strike stuff: - there's a bit of discussion of what that means in the comments here:


1 year 4 months ago

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Are Insulate Britain's direct action blocking the motorways on the right road? (ouch the pun)

Apart from distancing public sympathy, isn't it too much focus on the individual consumer answer?

We can acknowledge housing is badly designed and we can retro-fit energy-saving home improvements but does it once again let the real culprits off and substitute government green policies as a solution.

R Totale

1 year 4 months ago

In reply to by

Oh, suppose it's also worth linking this thread here: