Until Emissions Drop, Nothing Has Been Accomplished: The Climate Resistance Handbook Is Here.

A new guide to activism aims to inform and inspire a new generation of global climate campaigner

"People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished," writes Greta Thunberg in the introduction to the new Climate Resistance Handbook. "But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve."“People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished,” writes Greta Thunberg in the introduction to the new Climate Resistance Handbook. “But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve.”

Common Dreams editor’s note: The following excerpts are taken from the Foreward, by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, and the Introduction, by 350.org campaigner Daniel Hunter, of the new Climate Resistance Handbook (Or, I Was Part of a Climate Action. Now What?)recently published online. If you’re wondering how to build a powerful, strategic movement that can make big wins for climate action, this is your guide (pdf). The excerpts are published here with permission from the authors. Learn more or get your copy of the handbook here.

From the Foreward by Greta Thunberg:

I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.

Around the year 2030, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

climate_resistance_handbook_greta_thunbeClick for more information or to download/purchase the handbook. And please note that these calculations are depending on inven‐tions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

I hope you will join me in acting. I hope this book helps give you a place to start and to keep going.

We have to act, to change the politics that allows this destruction to continue. We have to act urgently, because we simply have to find a way.

From the Introduction, by Daniel Hunter:

The sense of urgency on climate has never been higher than now. We are in a serious crisis. If humans want to have a planet like the one we have lived on for millions of years, we have to adjust. We have to change. We have to do it quickly.

Thankfully, we have a wealth of elders to learn from. Regular people have changed the course of history. They have overthrown iron-fisted governments, fought for inclusion, for more democratic and fair systems. While those in power resisted, those with less power used social movements to force change.

We can learn from them that change does not happen just be‐cause an issue is important. People have to wage a struggle to fight for the Earth’s climate. This is because the climate has an array of ene‐mies: governments, corporations, media sources, and at times our own consumption and behavior.

So we need to bind together to create the strongest movement possible. Movements win because they channel the feelings of ur‐gency, anger, fear — and our sense of this being wrong — into a force for change.

If you’re with me, then this book is for you. Let’s begin!


Do we really need hope to push climate action forward?

Students march to the offices of Environment and Climate Change Canada in Vancouver on March 15, 2018, demanding climate policies. Photo by Brenna Owen

“What is it that gives you hope?”

That’s the question I’ve heard several times during my recent sampling of climate-action events, from a Burnaby town hall meeting on the Green New Deal to a workshop on climate-change communication at the Hollyhock learning centre in B.C.’s beautiful, tanker-threatened Gulf Islands.

These are all welcome initiatives, bringing together many remarkable and energetic people.

But I’m not so sure about the priority given to that question. Does one need to feel hope in order to take effective action?

…how do you/we maintain political stamina in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds?

And let’s be realistic. Genuine climate action would include not only carbon pricing, but hard caps on emissions and leaving not just coal, but vast swaths of gas and oil in the ground. The petrobloc is fighting tooth and nail to prevent such “stranding” of its assets.

As defined by Simon Fraser University researcher Bob Neubauer, the petrobloc is “an informal alliance between actors — oil companies, banks which finance them, particular political parties, industry-backed think tanks and advocacy groups, etc. — which disproportionately benefit from the industry’s highly inequitable structure.”

The petrobloc also includes industry-captured regulatory agencies, such as the National Energy Board, and significant chunks of Canada’s media. Most notorious is Canada’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia, apparently controlled by U.S. hedge funds. It hopes to slurp up some of the gravy from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s “war-room” fund to fight environmentalists and other pesky impediments to his extractivist agenda.

Why aren’t the world’s most powerful countries taking climate crisis more seriously? The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights surely hit the nail on the head in a BBC World interview on June 25. Philip Alston identified the self-interests vested in the current high-carbon economy and the fossil-fuel industry’s furious lobbying to maintain its $5 trillion in annual global subsidies while publics fail to pay attention or still see climate change as far-off.

So, in terms of social psychology and political economy, the deck seems to be stacked…Even the inspiring wartime leader Winston Churchill had his moments of severe doubt and depression, which he called the “Black Dog.” Yet he stayed true to one of his maxims: KBO, Keep Buggering On.

So what, then, are possible motivations for action other than optimism about future success?

“When we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then the hope will come.” — Gret Thunberg

The pleasure and sense of efficacy that comes through working with like-minded people. Love of your family, community and planet. Ethical obligation to future generations. Self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment — better to die on your feet than live on your knees, as the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata proclaimed a century ago. Curiosity about seeing how the future unfolds, and becoming an active agent in helping to shape it, rather than just an object being acted upon.

And less nobly, perhaps, anger and a desire for revenge.

…Moreover, climate-justice activism offers ordinary people a sense of purpose, a way to live meaningfully. In his classic memoir of surviving the horrors of Auschwitz, Viktor Frankl argued “man’s search for meaning” may be the most important human motivator of all.  MORE

As Systems Collapse, People Rise: Seven Faces of an Emerging Global Movement

clockwise, from top left: Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future, Sunrise movement

There is a new global movement awakening across the planet. The Fridays For Future (FFF) movement inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has brought millions of high school students to the streets this year. The grassroots Extinction Rebellion (XR) founded in the UK last year aims to mobilize non-violent climate action worldwide. And in the United States, Sunrise, a youth-led movement that advocates political action on climate change, teamed up with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) and effectively changed the conversation by proposing the Green New Deal. With the partial exception of Sunrise, most of these movements and their events have largely been ignored by the U.S. media. More important, hardly any of the reporting explicitly acknowledges these movements as expressions of a larger shift in consciousness globally, in particular among young people.

The emerging wave of youth movements in 2019 differs from the 1968 student movement in a variety of ways. One, the key figures are young women, not young men. Two, they are arguing for a change in consciousness, not just for a change in ideology. Three, they are intentionally collaborating with earlier generations, not just fighting against them. And four, they are using technology in intentional and new ways. In this column, I describe seven “faces” or aspects of this shift in global awareness and the youth-led movement that is taking shape now.

1. The Decline of the Far Right

The recent election of the EU parliament, which is the only directly elected supranational body in the world, was remarkable in a number of ways. In comparison with the 2014 election, voter turnout was up by a significant margin (following a steady drop over the previous two decades), and the widely anticipated success of the far-right parties in Europe was a no-show. All the far-right parties could muster was a 5% increase, from 20% to 25% of the votes. To be sure, 25% is still a lot. But it’s much less than projected in almost every country, including Hungary (where Viktor Orban failed to reach his declared objective of a two-thirds majority), and France (where Marine Le Pen won, but did not exceed a percentage in the low 20s). In Germany the AfD didn’t even manage to surpass 10%, remaining in the single digits in western Germany, though up significantly in the former East Germany — a region that has seen almost 60 years of totalitarian regimes since 1933.

2. The Rise of the Greens in Europe

However, the main story of the EU election revolves around something different: the rise of the Green Party. In Germany, the Greens took almost 21% overall. Among young voters in Germany, the Greens — the only party that clearly positions itself pro climate action, pro immigration, pro social justice, pro EU— are now by far the most popular party. Even among voters under age 60, the Green Party ranks first (but with a smaller margin than among the under-30 voters). Even though the Greens remain weak in Eastern and Southern Europe, they gained strength across the board in Western and Northern Europe (e.g., in France to 13.5%) and in Europe overall. MORE

‘Biggest compliment yet’: Greta Thunberg welcomes oil chief’s ‘greatest threat’ label

Activists say comments by Opec head prove world opinion is turning against fossil fuels

 Greta Thunberg tweeted: ‘Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!’ in response to Mohammed Barkindo’s comments Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Greta Thunberg and other climate activists have said it is a badge of honour that the head of the world’s most powerful oil cartel believes their campaign may be the “greatest threat” to the fossil fuel industry.

The criticism of striking students by the trillion-dollar Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) highlights the growing reputational concerns of oil companies as public protests intensify along with extreme weather.

Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary general of Opec, said there was a growing mass mobilisation of world opinion against oil, which was “beginning to … dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry”.

He said the pressure was also being felt within the families of Opec officials because their own children “are asking us about their future because … they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry”.

Although he accused the campaigners of misleading people with unscientific arguments, the comments were welcomed by student and divestment campaigners as a sign the oil industry is worried it may be losing the battle for public opinion.

“Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!” tweeted Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish initiator of the school student strike movement, which continues every Friday.

“Brilliant! Proof that we are having an impact and be sure that we will not stop,” said Holly Gillibrand, who was among the first students in the UK to join the global climate strikes.

Opec – which is made up of 14 countries with 80% of the world’s proven oil reserves – is planning to expand production, which is undermining efforts to slow global heating. The backlash is not just from students, Extinction Rebellion activists and climate scientists.

Insurance companies – which have the most to lose from storms, floods, fires and other extreme weather – are increasingly pulling investment from fossil fuel assets. The governor of the Bank of England has warned of growing climate risks to the financial sector.

Earlier this week, the London Stock Exchange reclassified oil and gas companies under a non-renewable energy category that effectively puts them on the wrong side of climate crisis. MORE

OPEC head: Climate activists are the ‘greatest threat’ to oil industry

OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo. AFP / Getty Images


What’s one of the world’s most powerful cartel’s afraid of? A bunch of meddling kids.

Climate activists and their “unscientific” claims are “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward,” said Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary general of OPEC (the cartel representing 14 countries with 80 percent of the world’s oil reserves) earlier this week.

He might have been talking about protesters more broadly, but the rest of his statement suggests that young people are being particularly irksome. Barkindo said some of his colleague’s children are asking them about the future because “they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry.” (I guess the birds and the bees isn’t the most uncomfortable conversation parents are having with their kids in OPEC households.)

This is, of course, heartening news for climate activists. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede famous for starting a movement of youth strikes calling for climate action, thanked OPEC for the compliment.

Greta Thunberg


“There is a growing mass mobilisation of world opinion… against oil” and this is “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry”.
OPEC calls the school strike movement and climate campaigners their “greatest threat”.

Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/climate-campaigners-greatest-threat-oil-sector-opec-doc-1i79w11 

Climate campaigners ‘greatest threat’ to oil sector: OPEC


Barkindo is right that climate advocates are winning over the hearts and minds of the people. Surveys show that 57 percent of Americans now think fossil fuel companies are at least partially responsible for climate change. Meanwhile, support for policies that would cut into fossil fuel companies’ bottom lines, like transitioning to renewable energy infrastructure, is increasing as approval for expanding fossil fuel infrastructure and offshore drilling declines.

As for climate activists’ “unscientific claims,” it’s unclear if Barkindo had a particular statement in mind, but the science pretty unequivocally supports demands for urgent change. Global emissions need to be drastically cut by 2050 to avoid more than 1.5 degrees C of warming, and to do that we need to use way less fossil fuels.

It’s not just public opinion that’s turning against the fossil fuel industry — insurance companies and investors are increasingly opting to put their money elsewhere. But that’s not the fault of some upstart kids: It’s because science and common sense are showing fossil fuels are a bad investment, especially in the long run. Recent figures estimate that climate change could cost the world economy as much as $69 trillion by 2100. MORE

Can Greta’s Movement Bring Moral and Financial Responsibility Into the Climate Conversation?

We need to shake ourselves loose from governments that are beholden to corporate interests and the elite. Like a snake shedding it’s skin we need to leave those politicians and their ideas behind.

I bet she’s thinking…what is wrong with you…you do have kids don’t you?

The type of awareness that Greta has raised for climate change is unprecedented. No one could have anticipated that a 15 year old girl from Sweden sitting alone outside of the Swedish parliament could have turned that single action into a worldwide movement. But she did and the reason it worked is that it was a genuine stand against a ruling class that stopped paying attention to the 99%. I think we need to be very mindful to not tell young people who have the most to lose, what they need to do, what is achievable and what will work.

We need to learn from the misguided exchange that Senator Feinstein had with a group of passionate students (7 -16 yrs) from the Sunrise Movement. After the senator heard their pleas to address the climate crisis she said:

I’ve been doing this for 30 years. You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that…I know what I’m doing. Maybe people should listen a little bit.

With all due respect to Senator Feinstein, I don’t think she has the first clue as to how to address this emergency. She and her political allies like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are stuck in the past. And in that same light, I think we also need to be weary of the billionaire class that likes to think that they can solve problems like “superheroes”.

As Anand Giridharadas explores in his must read book, “Winners Take All”, billionaires have a way of solving problems in ways that maintain the status quo. Whether by accident or by design billionaires and the corporate elite avoid systemic solutions that could erode some of their wealth in favour of “market solutions” that shelter their wealth or even give it a chance to grow. That’s the beauty of “doing well by doing good” it looks like you’re trying to help, you think that you’re trying to help but in the end, you’re only helping yourself by sharing your wealth in ways that leave the door open to accumulating more wealth. I explore this in greater detail in my article titled, “How Billionaire Greed Ruined a Perfectly Good Strategy Called Corporate Sustainability.”

The beauty of “doing well by doing good” is that it looks like you’re trying to help, you think that you’re trying to help but in the end, you’re only helping yourself by sharing your wealth in ways that leave the door open to accumulating more wealth.

So, no thank you Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill McGlashin, Meg Whitman and Jack Ma and any other righteous billionaires who suddenly feel like they have what it takes to save the planet — just pay your taxes and your unpaid bills for the social and environmental harm that you caused and we’ll take care of the rest.

The reality is that no one really knows what to do or how this will play out. Each day the playbook is being written and those young people just might have the best chance of writing a winning script. MORE

Amnesty International awards its highest honour to Greta Thunberg and #FridaysForFuture climate movement

Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults' lack of action in addressing the climate crisis.
Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults’ lack of action in addressing the climate crisis. ANDERS HELLBERG

One of the world’s most influential and admired human rights organization is shining a spotlight on youths trying to save humanity on Earth.

Amnesty International has given its Ambassadors of Conscience 2019 award to Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the #FridaysForFuture movement.

Thunberg, 16, started going on strike from school last year on Fridays and holding protests outside the Swedish parliament to push legislators to take far more dramatic action to address the climate crisis.

She has inspired other students around the world, including in Vancouver, to hold their own Friday climate strikes.

“This is not my award, this is everyone’s award,” Thunberg said. “It is amazing to see the recognition that we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact.”

Embedded video


They’re challenging us to confront realities of the climate crisis. They’re reminding us we’re more powerful than we know. They’re telling us to protect human rights against climate catastrophe. @GretaThunberg & are our Ambassadors of Conscience 2019.