SXSW Eco: Building a Better Climate Movement

By Marcie Barnes

Panelists: Courtney Hight – Co-Executive Director, Energy Action Coalition; John Pflueger – Principal Environmental Strategist for Dell; Tom Brookes – Managing Director, Energy Strategy Centre; Bee Moorhead – Director of Texas Interfaith Power and Light.

Nuggets from panel:

More and more companies are publishing corporate responsibility reports. The climate movement is not an official one with a flag and a logo, but a defacto one. From the corporate perspective [Dell] pays attention to what customers want and ask for.

It’s not clear whether or not there is a climate movement. What is it? A left-wing campaign? A common agenda for change? A lifestyle choice? A new economic narrative? Is the left wing really inherently badly organized?

It is perceived to be a left wing issue, in the faith community, the synthesis is between rules and love, between two ways of engaging the world. About how do we live with each other. There’s not a movement that’s effective.

The movement is very fragmented. We need business, personal , individual, massive projects that the governement will invest in, people with coal plants nearby are already part of climate change issues, regardless of political affiliation.

It looks like there is a a positive ramp-up over time in recent years – a positive curve. The people occupying wall street have been personally impacted, climate change is not an immediate personal experience for most, but there are those dying from coal plant emissions, mining side-effects, etc…people are pissed and seeing the massive grip of corporate control and they decide to go wall street, we need to connect to that and learn lessons from that.

Graphic: Key Components of the Climate Change Denial Machine – should the climate movement go up against each point in order to move forward?  None of the political agreements (Kyoto, etc.) are doing what they were intended to do. The debate in America is more intense but the rest of the world is also not “up to snuff.”

Addressing the real problem means addressing the money chain / corporate component and also making personal choices. It’s hard to pinpoint one bad guy in the climate movement (in comparison to pinpointing Wall Street, etc.) Campaign finance reform will be an important avenue. Our President is not talking about climate change, it has become a hush issue.

We need to organize better. On power – we’ve got to give the other side some space in order to start a conversation, not keep yelling at them.




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