Numerous opinion polls around the world point to a long-term rise in public concern about climate change and the prioritization of climate action by governments. In spite of this ever-growing public awareness of the urgency of climate action, environmental scientists and activists have struggled to motivate the wider public, policymakers and corporations to push through the disruptive and ambitious policies needed to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.
In recent months however, a new sense of urgency has been injected into the environmental debate by movements including the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ in London and the ‘Youth For Climate’ strikes internationally.
Do acts of civil disobedience, like those carried out by the Extinction Rebellion, mark a turning point in environmental activism or do they serve to alienate large swathes of the population?
To what extent is it necessary to find ways to mobilize the public which unify, rather than divide, citizens across class and partisan lines?
And what is the role of other lower-profile methods of public engagement, such as citizens assemblies, in helping to create meaningful and long-lasting change?
Daze Aghaji, Climate Activist; Climate and Ecological Emergency Independents
Dr Sam Geall, Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources Department, Chatham House; Editor, Chinadialogue.net
Farhana Yamin, Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources Department, Chatham House; Climate Change Lawyer; Extinction Rebellion Activist
Chair: Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, The Guardian