We have a brief window in which to act on climate change, and to do so with enough force, commitment and ambition to achieve a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy. But how might such a fundamental shift – from business as usual to transformative change – be achieved?
Part of the answer may lie in events in London in April, where, under the banner of the Extinction Rebellion, thousands of people committed acts of civil disobedience, seriously disrupting the capital for 10 days. Media attention to climate change soared and a climate emergency motion was passed by Parliament.
This public lecture examines Extinction Rebellion’s strategy, its emphasis on non-violent civil disobedience and its impact before asking: what, beyond grassroots politics, would a transformational movement built around climate change involve? Must pressure be brought to bear on recalcitrant governments from many quarters: not just from grassroots activist groups but from business, financial markets, scientists, school children, faith groups, cities and multiple others?
Perhaps, as groups like Extinction Rebellion gain momentum, and join with others, a tipping point will be reached, generating rapid and far-reaching changes across the economic and social system. If so, then bottom-up action driven by civil society, in tandem with its allies and as part of a broader web of influence, may yet be the catalyst for rapid, radical and constructive action by nation-states.
This is part of a MSSI seminar series focusing on biodiversity.
About the presenter
Neil Gunningham is a lawyer and social scientist working principally in the areas of climate, energy and environmental regulation and governance. His books include Smart Regulation: Designing Environmental Policy, and Shades of Green: Business, Regulation and Environment. His current research is on the role of financial markets in climate change mitigation, and on the roles of climate activism in averting a climate catastrophe.