Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The COP 15 Lesson: We Need a BIGGER and Global Movement

Probably the major take away that's sinking into my brain regarding the COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change conference is that our leaders need to be lead.  It might not be everybody, but it's certainly the leaders of the countries responsible for the bulk of heat trapping pollutants that are causing climate disruption.

Those of us who've worked to strike deals with large companies know how slowly they move, and how frustrating it can be.  "It's like trying to steer an oil tanker," people will say.

These GLOBAL climate change negotiations make trying to strike a deal with a large company seem like child's play.  It's such a BIIIIIIG endeavor.

So to achieve our goals requires a BIIIIIIIGER movement -- something akin to a global Civil Rights movement that really ratchets up pressure on our political leaders.

We also need a big enough tent to attract the swing voters -- by focusing on the 21st century economy, clean energy, and security and patriotism, as a focus on climate is clearly going to fall short, especially here in the U.S.  We're not going to convince everybody, and to try would be a waste of time and energy.  We just need a solid majority.

Probably the best reflection of the need for a BIGGER movement I've read since Copenhagen came to a close comes from this Grist piece -- calling for 10x: a movement TEN TIMES its current size:

Early in COP15’s second week, she and another ten distinguished leaders—this decade’s Diane Nash’s and John Lewis’s—arranged a meeting with a high-level member of the U.S. delegation. By their account, it was highly-charged, emotional, and as frustrating as any 30 minutes they have ever experienced. Behind closed doors, they witnessed what Bill McKibben and—incomparable leaders—were to discover so strikingly two days later; COP negotiators knew all along that their draft plan was nowhere near a trajectory to get to 350. And as the meeting ended, the official seemed to twist the knife when he looked at them and declared: “You haven’t done enough. You haven’t built the popular support that we need to get behind something like a 350 trajectory”.

But after some outrage and some tears, these inspiring leaders did what they have always done since the climate movement began to coalesce seven years ago. They vowed to work even harder, as hard as humanly possible, testing new ideas and mobilizing new resources, to win this fight of the ages.

Here’s Jesse’s money quote later that night, as a handful of us debriefed: “Never again am I going to sit in the room with an elected official and be told that our movement isn’t strong enough.  I’m going to go home and do my part to make it ten times as big.”  In other words, it’s time for 10X.

I'm in!  Please do drop me a line and let me know how I can help this epic movement succeed in achieving our goals...

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