This article by Ameet Mehta and Rupert Read was first published on Business Green.
People around the world are increasingly aware of the dire consequences of climate change. However, instead of succumbing to despair, our experience is that in increasing numbers they are laying the groundwork for real mass action.
There is a burgeoning group of climate-aware entrepreneurs, business people, and advocates, who through their lifestyles and business practices are taking bold steps towards environmentally and ecologically informed system change.
A new platform, the Climate Majority Project, is mobilising, enabling and showcasing individuals and groups from all walks of life to drive such meaningful change. This article highlights the growing momentum of climate action, the significance of this transformative moment, and the potential for a powerful majority that will be hard to ignore.
Recognizing the Urgency:
For decades, we have been told that there is still time to ‘fix’ climate change. However, the reality is that urgent action is required now. Or rather: it was required years ago. Time’s up – and we are now in the age of consequences.
Despite the perpetually optimistic narratives typically espoused by big business and NGOs alike, experts acknowledge that achieving the safe limits outlined in the Paris Agreement is increasingly unlikely. People are beginning to strongly suspect that the severity of the crisis is downplayed; and their concerns are validated by abnormal weather patterns and climate-related disasters. The failure of leaders to take decisive action further fuels public discontent.
Our theory of change begins from not shying away from the truth of all this. Our experience is that when people are told about the severity of the crisis, in an authentic way, and are given a chance to process their difficult feelings about it, they are mobilizable. And when they get the sense that there are many others – in fact, an emerging majority – like them, they take action as never before. And we have been encouraged to find that business audiences are no exception.
The Rise of Climate Action:
For, contrary to the beliefs of the many among elites who think that our psyches are too fragile to bear a challenging and uncertain reality, people are not despairing; they are seeking ways to respond to the urgency of the moment.
Climate action is no longer confined to a small group of activists or left-wing or anarchist organisations. Citizens from diverse backgrounds are taking matters into their own hands and launching initiatives in their communities, workplaces, faith groups, and more. These initiatives range from local net-zero strategies to business decarbonization, professional climate networks, adaptation efforts, and rewilding projects. People are channelling their energy into meaningful change that aligns with their unique circumstances and capacities.
This is the emerging climate majority.
The Power of Collective Action:
While individual actions may seem fragmented, they gain strength when viewed collectively. Citizen climate action, in aggregate, is already starting to have an impact. Moreover, with the ongoing shift in public climate consciousness, these initiatives have the potential to scale and multiply exponentially. This growing mass mobilisation will be impossible to ignore. It’s a realisation that the next big thing in climate action is a culmination of many smaller and different things.
In other words: the answer to the question “What can I do, as an individual, in the face of the overwhelming scale of the climate crisis?” is: Don’t be an individual. Thus the huge importance of workplaces, professions, businesses – these are key locales where we gather to get things done.
As businesses get further engaged, turning from being an impediment to a leader/enabler is game-changing. A crucial element is switching from lobbying for special interests, tax breaks etc to lobbying for a more responsible and sustainable playing field for all, with bad actors driven out. This would be a man bites dog moment. It is part of what we in Climate Majority Project seek to potentiate. We are seeing this change in the process of occurring and are seeking to catalyse it further. See Rupert Read’s “Let’s gauge firms’ real CO2 footprints” for details of the needful direction of travel here.
The Climate Majority Project:
The Climate Majority Project plays a crucial role in fostering mutual awareness and building a self-conscious mass climate movement. It serves as a rallying point for individuals who are seeking alternatives to ‘business-as-usual’ practices.
Going forward, the Climate Majority Project is keen to connect more deeply with the different actors, to build bridges, make connections, support collaborations and foster better coordination, and, thereby, galvanise deeper influence upon governments, markets, and institutions that could become truly climatically and ecologically considerate.
The Project’s founding Statement, was signed by “unusual suspects” in climate action that involve demographics not normally associated across communities, workplaces, and politics. It was co-signed by 25 (and counting) prominent personalities from across the political divide; from famous former radical activists to Olympic athletes and Tory peers – see BG’s “Climate Majority: Leading campaigners back new grassroots green movement”.
To deepen our impact, the Project incubates citizen climate initiatives with the potential to scale and multiply; connecting them with funding and support, and a sense of their own foundational role in building a mass movement. By connecting people and initiatives, we develop belonging, empower teams and amplify their collective impact. As evidence of this transformative moment and the team’s skill: four of five of the CMP’s first tranche of incubatees have secured further funding – after receiving their very first funding from us.
The Path Forward:
In a world where climate denial is no longer credible, despair must not be the natural response. Although it is too late to keep global overheating and biodiversity loss within safe limits, the extent of the damage still depends largely on our actions. People are demonstrating their ability to handle the truth when they have others to face it with. The majority of citizens will show governments their hunger for change by insisting on it and taking action themselves.
That is the apogee of our theory of change: when activation and culture-shift is occurring at-large across society, political culture will have no option but to shift, and our ‘leaders’ will at last be dragged into taking sufficient action.
The era of a ‘safe’ climate is over – so it’s time for the Climate Majority to rise. With growing awareness, citizen-led initiatives, and platforms like the Climate Majority Project, we have the opportunity at this terrible and epochal moment to create a powerful movement for change.