- Davide Bertone
BARRIERS TO ACTIVISM: OUR MOTIVATION
In this article, the SCOOP UK blog editors work together to outline just why how intersectional identities combine to affect our sustainable views, beliefs and actions, as well as outline SCOOP UK's national campaign on Barriers to Activism.
We are nearing the end of 2021. A year of much climate promise, some progress and much yet to be done. At COP26, we saw the effect that marginalising important voices can have on climate outcomes. Many grandeur pledges that reinforced current practices.
This has inspired our first campaign of the year exploring, ‘Barriers to Activism: How to ensure sustainability remains accessible to all’. Through this campaign we will look to shine attention on the barriers that not only impede individual climate action, but structural change as well. In particular, we must strive to understand how intersectional identities combine to affect our sustainable views, beliefs and actions.
Conversations surrounding the Climate Crisis have long ignored the disproportionate effect on minorities, both geographically and through factors such as segregation, unequal educational opportunities, and more limited prospects for economic advancement often leaving minorities more vulnerable. Further, POC voices are consistently being silenced on the global climate stage. Vanessa Nakate, a black youth climate activist, for example, finds herself continually undermined by the media. This discrimination is not always tacit; her image was even cropped out of a press photo taken at the World Economic Forum. The racism that Nakate faced hit the news, most cases of this sort do not. It is our responsibility to amplify minority voices when we hear them on a global stage, but also to actively seek their inclusion. Where do you find your information on the climate crisis? Have a look through the creators and make an active attempt to diversify your range of sources.
Poverty is often treated as a dirty word, and thus the relationship between the climate crisis and poverty is often overlooked. Sustainability is often portrayed as a middle class hobby - this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are those in a lower income bracket disproportionately impacted by the Climate Crisis, the individual sustainable outlook often utilised in these communities is ignored. For example, rather than purchasing the latest sustainable trend, lower income households are much more likely to repurpose what they already have. It is important that we don’t ignore common sense swaps simply out of ‘appearances’. Next time you need a new container to fill up at your local SCOOP store, consider repurposing a coffee jar or a takeaway tub.
Likewise, gender is deeply interlinked with climate action. The fraught concept of masculinity at times seems to stand in opposition to climate action. For example, the association that exists between meat eating and masculinity. Maintaining a masculine gender identity is in certain cultures as strong a societal and personal pressure against plant-based diets as any lobbying by the meat and dairy industry. Similarly, our unconscious association of eco-minded and sustainable lifestyles with femininity often leads men to switch off in discussions about individual sustainable action.
On a wider scale, women have been kept at arms length of political and economic discussions which surround the Climate Crisis. For example, currently, all of the leaders of individual countries part of G7 and G20 are male. Women in fact remain seriously under-represented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance. Only two of the eight leaders at the COP26 Strategic Units were women. With studies showing the power of female-led leadership, for example 6x fewer deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot to be asked about what gender equality would bring to climate action.
On a global scale, the conversation surrounding climate change remains heavily Western centric. As we saw at COP26, countries from the Global North and G20, which are most to blame for the climate crisis, squabbled amongst themselves about pledges to cut carbon emissions. By contrast, countries in the Global South, which are already experiencing the devastation of the effects of the climate crisis, were marginalised from some of the most crucial conversations at COP26. However, their voices matter just as much, if not more, in these discussions, due to the imminent dangers they face from the climate crisis. Globally, the voices and needs of those affected most by the climate crisis are not being prioritised by influential corporations and wealthy governments.
What can SCOOP UK do?
As a small organisation, SCOOP UK can spread the message about such barriers to activism as widely as possible and encourage other small climate-focused organisations and individuals to do the same. Ultimately, we are stronger together and, thus, we must urge our economically powerful nations to stop sidelining those most at risk.
Any fight for social justice, whether concerned with gender, race, or class, is part of the environmental justice movement. Climate change is a product of the structural machine that has similarly caused rising inequality for 70% of the world's population. The machine that prioritises short-term profit over long-term sustainability and sustenance. At SCOOP UK, we believe it is time for change. Together, we can build a politics with sustainability at the heart of it; sustainability that is not just for the rich and well-off but sustainability that is for all. That is our motivation for this campaign. This is why we are partnering with organisations across the UK which promote inclusivity and are breaking down the barriers that exist surrounding climate activism.
Join us in this ambition. Follow our blogs. Add your voice to our campaign.
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