Vision for a Danish popular movement against global warming

(continued from my previous blog post)

When Nynne Holm and I came to realize that Denmark was (as of October 2007) without a popular movement against global warming, we decided to take on the challenge of starting one ourselves, despite feeling quite insecure due to our almost total lack of experience.

Role of a Climate Movement

We (together with a few more people) started by envisioning what the role of a new Climate Movement would be, i.e. the niche that it would occupy — which turned out to be a pretty damn big niche.

  • A broad popular movement, open and welcoming to all
    • laypersons and experts
    • all ages, genders, and classes
    • non-partisan and not bound to any political ideology (Denmark currently has eight parties in its parliament, ranging from far-right nationalists to the left revolutionary Red-Green Alliance through liberals and social-democrats)
  • Constantly seeks to grow
    • grows in numbers
    • grows in commitment
    • reaches out
      • to all parts of the country, not just the traditional environmental bastions (e.g. the capital, Copenhagen)
      • to constituencies not traditionally associated with environmental concern
    • mobilizes all the currently climate-conscious Danes
    • increases climate-consciousness in others
  • Transfers energy
    • from the personal, where many citizens are already committed to "contributing"
    • to the common and political, where much of that energy could better be used
  • Time horizon:
    • Medium-term milestone: The Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009 (to replace the Kyoto agreements) i.e. 2 years from the Climate Movement’s inception
    • Long term: 2030, by which time annual emissions of greenhouse gasses must be reduced to more or less 1 ton CO2eq per person, if we are to avoid runaway global warming.

Organizational goals

We then identified "internal", or "organizational" goals, first addressing the issue of growth:

  • A movement that grows in numbers year after year
    • end 2008: 1000 members
    • end 2009: 5000 members (Copenhagen Climate summit)
    • end 2010: 10000 members
    • end 2011: 25000 members …
    • These goals seemed extremely ambitious – remember that Denmark has a population of roughly 5.5 million, i.e. quite a bit smaller than the largest US cities
  • A movement that spreads geographically (The initiative started in Copenhagen, the nation’s capital)
    • Establishment of many local groups within our first year of existence
      • in the large cities (Århus, Odense, Aalborg… large by Danish standards!)
      • in smaller towns

We also had to address the "internal" issue of growing commitment. What principles would guide us in order to ensure that a large portion of members become active, and not just have a tiny, isolated, hyperactive leadership with a large body of passive supporters with declining interest?

  • A movement that allows and encourages members to become stronger and smarter
    • around
      • climate-related science and politics
      • building a popular movement
    • through an continuous, active effort in
      • Internal knowledge sharing
      • Skill development

External goals

Then looking at "external" roles and goals, we identified:

  • Organising activities aimed at:
    • the Danish population
      • dissemination of knowledge
      • discussion and debate
      • mobilization
    • decision-makers
      • dialog
      • campaigns
      • actions
  • Cooperate with the current environmental organizations in the fight against climate change
    • Contribute active members to their work
    • Use the knowledge resources they have built
    • Joint campaigns
  • Link up with organizations from other countries
  • Help spark the rise of popular Climate Movements in other countries

The resulting Climate Movement

The result of these envisioned efforts would be that:

  • The Climate Movement is a growing force, which decision-makers have to take into account on many levels:
    • in the media
    • in political dialog
    • in campaigns aimed at business
    • on the street
  • It will become less troublesome for decision-makers to adopt an adequate climate policy than to oppose or ignore the Climate Movement!

I have to note that in the discussions that led to the formulation of this vision and "grand strategy", I was quite inspired by Michael Albert’s writings (and talks available online), as some of you may have noticed from the concepts presented here.

In my next post, I will address how we went about implementing these ideas more concretely into what became the structure of the Climate Movement in Denmark (Klimabevægelsen i Danmark). This structure is continuously evolving, but it does contain some features worth noting, with some deserving praise, and some, critique.

Write us at info@klimabevaegelsen.dk

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