Victoria Sheil IDIS400: Section 2 Global Climate March

In order to engage with my community, I decided to participate in collective action. I find that when large groups of people gather and directly face power dynamics, there is a large chance of being heard. This is in comparison to individual effort or a single organization. So, on Sunday November 29th, I made my way to D.C in front of the White House and joined the Global Climate March. Meeting up with 300- 500 people, we chanted and listened to speakers in front of the White House. Then, we walked around the white house on the street, stopping traffic and smiling to people recording from the sidewalk. Our goal was to gather before the U.N conference met in Paris and make sure that the leaders knew the United States supports strong climate action. Our gathering at the White House was only one of over 2,000 events worldwide. The march supports renewable, clean energy and the reduced use of fossil fuels. I enjoyed participating in the march because I like to see how a large city like D.C can organize. Living in Rockville, events of similar nature are small scale and I do not feel they have a large impact on power dynamics. Participating in a larger collective action allowed me to see if size can make an impact on power relations.

In order to organize an event this big there were two main actors. Avaaz and 360 are large internet based organizations that allow people from all over the world connect and organize action. Avaaz allows its members to focus its objectives through online polls, ensuring how time and resources are used is based on the members themselves. 360, whose goals are divestment in fossil fuel, relies on grassroots effort by allowing branches of the organization to have control over regional efforts. Both have a very large amount of people associated with the organizations due to their easy access and internet presence. These groups were essential in the Global Climate March due to the communication needed to organize a collective action. Since this march was directed towards a global meeting, collective action of similar scale was important. The internet has opened communication to connect people everywhere giving collective action the opportunity to become a larger effort than ever thought before. International problems no longer have to be individually address or solved in small meeting with a few country representatives. It is now possible for average people to be involved as well. Pictures of the events were posted throughout the internet and delegates in the conference were presented with these powerful images showing collective action throughout the world asking for stronger climate action against fossil fuels and country emissions. When the international community comes together looking for similar solutions, it is hard not to be considered in the decision making process. The large participation in the Global Climate March will pressure governments to take the conference seriously and commit to action plans in order to combat climate change.

Even though climate change should be considered a serious issue, there is still a struggle to get governments to seriously commit to cutting emissions and investing in alternative energies, in some countries more than others. Industries still have the money and lobbying to keep politicians from fighting climate change aggressively. However, an international effort could change that. The industry’s influence in United States politics do not hold as much power in international negotiations, especially when the community fighting for climate action is far more organized on the larger scale. Events such as the Global Climate March and further efforts from multiple international organizations working together can change the power dynamics so that emission policy will reflect what the people want instead of industry. This will especially come true when these large organizations can get enough people to out resource these companies invested in fossil fuels. I am glad to be part of such an event and hope that when the conference concludes next week, there will be plans to protect the future generation and reduce the dangerous consequences of climate change.

One thought on “Victoria Sheil IDIS400: Section 2 Global Climate March

  • December 4, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I think it’s awesome that you chose to engage with your community through direct action, not charitable service. These kinds of movements are so important to giving the people a voice and making change on a global level. It’s interesting to think about the massive power differential between the marchers and the politicians they are trying to reach.

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