From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject How to Be a Climate Activist During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Date March 26, 2020 12:49 AM
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[ The fight against climate change isn’t going away; it’s
going online.] [[link removed]]

[[link removed]]


Sarah Sax
March 20, 2020
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* [[link removed]]

_ The fight against climate change isn’t going away; it’s going
online. _

, Simon Dawson/Reuters


April was supposed to be a huge month for climate action. The plan was
to have a month of global mobilization with thousands of protests and
events planned by almost 1 million different organizations working

Activists had hoped to build on the success of last September’s
worldwide climate strikes, which saw 8 million people take to the
streets to demand action
[[link removed]].
And with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day next month, campaigners
predicted millions of people would again be out on the streets in
countries across the globe, trying to drive home the urgency of the
climate crisis.

Then came the coronavirus. 

On Tuesday, Earth Day Network, the global organizer of Earth Day,
called for the first Digital Earth Day
[[link removed]]
in response to the escalating threat of COVID-19. “Amid the recent
outbreak, we encourage people to rise up but to do so safely and
responsibly — in many cases, that means using our voices to drive
action online rather than in person,” said Kathleen Rogers,
president of Earth Day Network, in an online statement
[[link removed]].

It’s not just Earth Day, of course. U.S. organizations such as the
Youth Climate Strike Coalition
[[link removed]] and the Stop the Money
Pipeline [[link removed]], a coalition of 91
organizations dedicated to ending the financing of industries
contributing to the climate crisis, have canceled physical mass
mobilizations and public rallies in the U.S. 

And Greta Thunberg, the 17-year old Swedish climate activist, has
taken her weekly Friday school strike online
[[link removed]].
Last Friday, she tweeted a picture
[[link removed]]of
herself with her iconic sign at home with the caption: “School
strike week 82. In a crisis we change our behaviour and adapt to the
new circumstances for the greater good of society.”

[[link removed]]

Greta Thunberg [[link removed]]✔@GretaThunberg
[[link removed]]

School strike week 82. In a crisis we change our behaviour and adapt
to the new circumstances for the greater good of society.

Join the #DigitalStrike
[[link removed]] - post a pic of
you with a sign and use #ClimateStrikeOnline
[[link removed]] !
[[link removed]]
[[link removed]] #climatestrike
[[link removed]] #COVIDー19
[[link removed]]

[View image on Twitter]
[[link removed]][View
image on Twitter]
[[link removed]][View
image on Twitter]
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19.6K [[link removed]]

4:11 AM - Mar 13, 2020
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Twitter Ads info and privacy
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5,391 people are talking about this
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Mandates for social distancing and self-isolation are simply not
compatible with large-scale mass gatherings. But this creates
challenges for climate activists at an absolutely crucial time for the
climate crisis ― the COP26 international climate conference in
Glasgow, Scotland, is just seven months away, and the stakes are high.
The U.N. has called 2020 the “last best chance”
[[link removed]]
for addressing climate change. And with countries set to make new
pledges at the annual conference to meet their climate targets,
activists are looking to keep up the pressure.

“There were really high hopes that we were going to see far-reaching
ambition in Glasgow at the U.N. climate talks,” said Kim Bryan,
associate director for traditional communications for “But
also this year we were beginning to see big commitments of divestment
[[link removed]]
from big players. And we know that was in part caused by what happened
last year with the youth strikes and extinction rebellion movement.”

While governments must turn their attention to the pandemic, that
doesn’t mean that the climate crisis will cease to matter. The
question is, how is climate activism still possible during a pandemic?

The underlying momentum for climate action hasn’t gone away,
campaigners say. Many climate activists see this moment as a way to
educate more people about the climate crisis through targeted online
campaigns, distributing educational material and encouraging virtual
training and webinars.

They also point out that this public health crisis should also be a
further push for people to act quickly and urgently on the climate
crisis because large-scale social and economic disruptions are likely
to be increasingly frequent as the consequences of the climate crisis
become more severe.

[[link removed]]

Mary Ellis Stevens [🌱]@_Mary_Ellis
[[link removed]]

Week 49!
[📍]Charlotte, NC, USA

This is what striking looks like in the era of #COVIDー19
[[link removed]]

Today was our last in-person strike before we move to
[[link removed]] - join us!!

[View image on Twitter]
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2,656 [[link removed]]

12:41 AM - Mar 14, 2020
[[link removed]] · Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Government Center
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Twitter Ads info and privacy
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522 people are talking about this
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The phenomenal rise in climate awareness over the past year and a half
among the general public is often attributed to youth — like the
Fridays for Future movement started by Thunberg, and in the U.S.,
Sunrise Movement and the youth climate coalition Zero Hour
[[link removed]], which have brought issues
like climate equity to the forefront of the political debate through
protests, sit-ins and mass action.

But just because people are not physically striking doesn’t mean
that climate activism will die down. Climate groups are pivoting to an
array of virtual actions and finding creative ways to keep the climate
momentum growing.

Some digital events already exist
[[link removed]].
Earth Day Network, along with climate initiative Exponential Roadmap
[[link removed]] and the social network We
Don’t Have Time is hosting the third annual #WeDontHaveTime
[[link removed]] online climate conference
[[link removed]] during Earth Day
Week, April 20–25, with more than 20 hours of live talks and events.

Many other groups are now following this line and shifting their
activism online.

“What the climate movement is doing now is organizing all our action
digitally through digital takeovers, digital strikes, digital
solidarity, videos, online content,” said Jamie Margolin
[[link removed]], co-founder of Zero Hour.
“Everyone is on their phones now so we can completely take over the
internet; Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tick-Tock, Facebook -

The Fridays for Future website [[link removed]] has
a list of virtual actions climate activists can engage in, such as
digital strikes, emailing politicians, and setting up Zoom conference

“Instead of coming out and striking in person, you can take a
picture and post it online with hashtags,” said Joe Hobbs, a Fridays
for Future organizer. “Keep up the online striking. The real point
is to show that you can still take action.”

[A Youth Climate Strike protestor holds a sign referencing coronavirus
on March 13, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.&nbsp;]

A Youth Climate Strike protestor holds a sign referencing coronavirus
on March 13, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.  MATTHEW HORWOOD VIA GETTY

Beyond moving strikes online, many organizations are seeing the forced
downtime as an opportunity to get more people involved — and to
regroup. Increased social isolation means they have the opportunity to
strengthen and educate many of the new and existing members who were
inspired by the protests last year.

“We’ve been going so quickly since this all took off,” said
Bryan from “Every month there’s been big strikes, we had
the mass demonstration last September, so that actually we haven’t
had much chance to stop and take stock. The fact that we’re all
going to be sitting at home online actually means we could build more
of a global community.”

This means working to educate people on the causes and consequences of
climate change and developing common narratives about specific issues.
To this end, is currently putting together a digital
“quarantine pack” with movies, podcasts, articles and online
training focused on issues such as fossil fuel financing that people
will be able to access from home. 

Sunrise Movement [[link removed]] is getting ready
to launch online programming for people to get involved and learn more
about the economy, climate change and the Green New Deal. 

Even though much of their work already takes place over the internet,
“we are going to be experimenting with new digital tools for putting
pressure on elected officials and shifting the narrative over the
coming months, even as people are in quarantine,” a Sunrise press
spokesperson told HuffPost.

Next week Sunrise will also launch “Sunrise School,” a series of
online classes to train high school and college students on organizing
and campaigning tactics.

Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. based group that has engaged in civic
disruption actions such as blocking five of central London’s bridges
in 2018
[[link removed]],
is currently designing an online platform  ― “This is not a
joke”―  with supportive resources to help people through the
current pandemic and also help them engage more with the climate

The immediate needs of the coronavirus take precedent for the group.
But it also sees the current culture of providing mutual aid and
solidarity as something that can be built upon to combat the climate

“We don’t need to return to a system that doesn’t value our
health or those of our communities but instead values our economy,”
said Vish Chauhan, a former emergency medicine doctor who now works
for Extinction Rebellion. “The other health crisis that is coming
doesn’t have a peak – it’s called the climate crisis. We have
the opportunity now to create a regenerative system that takes care of
us all.”

[Experts warn that air pollution, linked to the burning of oil, gas
and coal, is likely to increase the death rate from corona]

Experts warn that air pollution, linked to the burning of oil, gas and
coal, is likely to increase the death rate from coronavirus

The current pandemic’s connection to the climate crisis is also not
going unnoticed. For climate activists, the coronavirus outbreak and
the economic consequences it brings strengthen the need for clear and
urgent action on climate change.

Scientists have linked climate change to an increased frequency of
disease outbreaks
[[link removed]]. Experts
also say
[[link removed]]
that air pollution caused by the burning of oil, gas and coal is
likely to increase the death rate from coronavirus infections. 

“Many scientists say the climate crisis will cause more pandemics
and illnesses, and the impacts of the climate crisis will cause huge
disruptions to people,” said Bryan from “Having witnessed
the disruption this has caused, let’s try and future-proof our

While activist groups move from mass marches to mass online
mobilization, details are still being hammered out. But the current
pandemic — and the economic measures being debated now in Congress
and around the world for bailing out some of the largest polluters,
such as the oil industry
[[link removed]] and
the aviation sector
[[link removed]] —
might end up providing the sharpest angle for climate activism in the
weeks and months to come.

“There has never been a clearer case for why we need a kind of
economy based on care and compassion that the Green New Deal is all
about,” a Sunrise spokesperson told HuffPost. “There’s gonna be
a big choice that we have to make as a country in the face of this
crisis. Who do we take care of — and who do we protect? Is it
working people who are losing their health care and their jobs and
their livelihoods, or are we going to bail out some of the wealthiest
among us and the people driving the climate crisis?”

_Sarah Sax is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY, who reports on
climate change and environmental justice. You can follow her on
Twitter at @sarahl_sax_

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