Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year End Review: People Powered Environmental Movement

In 2014 collaborative relationships were formed that helped grow the environmental movement. More than any other single factor, growing calls for climate action from people around the world give us reason to hope that we will manifest the change we need to see. People are capable of driving change and forcing businesses and political leaderships to act. In addition to protesting, environmentalists are flexing their financial muscles. In 2014 this point was driven home by environmental groups who spent $85 million in support of climate-conscious politicians. While we still have a long way to go before we have responsive political leaderships and widespread adoption of truly sustainable business models, people powered movements are growing and they have the capacity to change both politics and business.

People are contributing to environmental groups and protesting against climate change in record numbers. They are signing petitions and sharing information through their social media networks.

In 2014 a number of environmental organizations helped drive the movement. Bill McKibben and 350.org drove the fossil fuel divestment movement to new heights, particularly on university campuses across North America and they also helped to organize the historic People's Climate March where over 1000 organizations came together to protest.

"All I ever really wanted was to see a climate movement come together, to see that we were actually going to fight," 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben told InsideClimate News. "And finally that day I was fully convinced."

"The movement today looks nothing like it did just a few years ago," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, a grassroots group leading the fight against the Keystone XL. "There are unlikely alliances now, ones I couldn't have predicted, and we're stronger than ever."

Environmental Defense Fund was among many organizations that launched new campaigns in 2014. The EDF campaing called Defend Our Future, is a grassroots effort that initially sought to get 100,000 young people in Colorado to pledge to vote for climate action. By election day on November 14th they had secured more than 125,000 pledges. Although they did not manage to stave off major Republican gains in the 2014 midterms, it does bode well for the future.

Young people in particular are driving climate action, they have the most to lose from inaction and the most to gain. Seventeen out of 20 young American voters support climate action. This has powerful implications for both Democrats and Republicans. Going forward, politicians vying for office will not have a prayer of getting elected if they fail to respond to the youth demographic.

It is hard to reconcile the growing climate movement with the new slate of Republicans that were elected at the end of 2014. While fossil fuel interests like the Koch brothers continue to outspend environmentalists, there is a growing backlash against Big Oil's deceitful misinformation campaigns. However, even Republicans beholden to the oil lobby cannot ignore the changing demographics and hope to retain power.

Related
2014 Year End Review: Sustainable Business
2014 Year End Review: Climate Change is Already Here and Left Unchecked it will get Far Worse
2014 Year End Review: Renewable Energy Achievements
2014 Year End Review: Reasons for Hope
2014 Year End Review: Climate and Energy Miscalculations
Climate Science Studies 2014 Chronological Review
Climate Focused Legal Battles in 2014 and 2015
Sustainability and (Cause) Marketing in 2014
2014 US State Energy Legislation Review
Video - 2014 was a Big Year for the Climate Movement (Climate Reality)
Video - Environmental Successes by NRDC Activists in 2014

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