Break the Silence, Launch a Campaign, Escalate Until We Win
Are you ready to move your community toward confronting the climate emergency? Our strategy for getting local governments to address the climate crisis has three parts:
Break the Silence includes ways that you can start talking about the climate emergency, connect with a group that’s ready to take action and build relationships with other groups in your community.
Launch a Campaign includes ideas for how to gather together interested groups and individuals, approach your representatives, and ask them to launch a climate emergency declaration and program.
Escalate Until We Win includes strategies that you can use to respond if officials refuse to support your campaign.
Let’s get started!
Break the silence:
Share the truth about the climate crisis
Our society’s silence about the climate crisis has been created by fossil fuel companies and the politicians who serve them, as well as the media, which has treated the climate crisis’ existence as controversial. Polls also show that most Americans barely ever discuss the climate crisis -- a widespread silence that is leading us toward environmental and social collapse.
But truth is powerful too, and the more we talk about the truth of the climate crisis, the stronger our movement becomes.
Documentary movie screenings, community meetings, petition signature gathering and conversations with your neighbors are an easy and accessible way for people to learn the facts of the climate emergency. And don’t forget to get to know local organizations that may already be working on these issues.
Raising awareness and building relationships in your community will build a solid foundation for a campaign to get your city to declare a climate emergency!
STRATEGIES YOU CAN TRY:
Start spreading the word about the climate emergency
Organize a screening for a documentary about the climate crisis. Movies are an accessible and enjoyable way to learn about serious issues. You can try Saving Civilization: Plan B 3.0; 11th Hour; How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change; or Chasing Ice.
Organize a community meeting(s) to share the truth about the climate crisis in your home, at a place of worship, or at your organization.
Knock on doors in your neighborhood, educate your neighbors, and collect petition signatures asking your mayor or other elected representatives to take action.
Build a group of people who are passionate about addressing the climate crisis
Connect with others by using one of the above strategies or by reaching out to friends, co-workers, and other people you know from your community.
You may decide to become a chapter of The Climate Mobilization, to do this work as members of another organization, or to organize as a loose group of volunteers.
Strengthen the broader climate movement by showing up in support of climate and environmental justice work that is already happening in your community
The movement is stronger when we support each other! Build relationships with other people and organizations by showing that you support their work -- whether by attending their rallies or events, volunteering or responding to another specific need. You’re not in it alone!
Creating a just mobilization will mean that the needs of communities who are hit worst by climate catastrophe and environmental injustice come first. Think about how you can bring this idea to life -- whether by aligning your work to support other local campaigns, or bringing people out to support other groups’ events.
Reflect on how you are approaching other organizations. Learn about their history and coalitions they are part of. Think about what you can give, how you can find true alignment through active hope, empathy and understanding, and about how your messaging can either support other groups in positive ways, or cause harm by erasing important issues.
Launch a Climate Emergency Campaign
Leading cities and counties across the U.S. are beginning to shift into climate emergency mode. Thanks to the hard work of local climate mobilizers, Berkeley, CA, Oakland, CA, Richmond, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, Hoboken, NJ, and Montgomery County, MD, have all declared a climate emergency and committed to ending greenhouse gas emissions at emergency speed.
Organizers in Maryland and Los Angeles are also pushing for climate emergency mobilization departments -- demanding that their locales give resources to a city department in charge of eliminating the city’s carbon emissions and catalyzing a larger climate emergency mobilization effort beyond the city.
Or, perhaps your area is ready to take even bolder action. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to think big! You can try pushing for your locality -- and perhaps its new climate emergency mobilization department -- to adopt and implement a mobilization plan that completely eliminates fossil fuels, installs solar panels on rooftops across the city, builds green affordable housing, offers free zero emissions public transit, and plants gardens in open spaces to sequester carbon.
For more ideas on policies you can pass as part of a mobilization plan, you can look at our local Draft Climate Mobilization Implementation Plans. Your plan may also include the city’s role as a climate advocate, pushing other localities and higher levels of government to launch their own mobilizations.
As part of this organizing toolkit, we’ve included a resolution for declaring a climate emergency and committing to achieve zero emissions (and beyond) at emergency speed, as well as optional policy language triggering a report into the creation of a climate emergency mobilization department.
Getting your local government to treat climate change like the emergency it is will make you part of the movement we are building across the U.S.!
STRATEGIES YOU CAN TRY:
Launch a coalition to launch a climate mobilization in your area
Find other organizations and individuals in your area with similar goals, and see if they would be interested in joining forces. (Stuck? Use some of the ideas above in Phase I!) Create a way to communicate, whether it’s an email list, a text group or regular meetings.
After getting more people on board, your coalition can reach out to policy makers; launch a campaign urging them to declare a climate emergency and commit to addressing it at speed and scale; and hold them accountable for local implementation. Similar coalitions have already formed in Los Angeles and Montgomery County, MD.
Organize a launch party or kickoff meeting for the campaign
Invite anyone you think may be interested: community organization members, clergy, labor leaders, environmental and environmental justice organizers, and business leaders, as well as parents, young people, and others who have a stake in the issue.
Ask those who attend to meet with their city council members, mayor or mayor's staff about creating a climate emergency declaration, department, and plan.
Meet with a city or county council member, mayor, or mayor's staff to propose the idea of an emergency climate declaration and climate emergency mobilization department
Try to identify leaders who seem like they would be receptive. There may be city or county council members who are already looking to take action, but are unsure how to do so or that they have enough public support.
Meet with candidates for local, state and federal offices. Educate voters about their stance on the climate crisis
Create a candidate questionnaire to make sure your meeting stays on track, and that you ask the same questions of each candidate.
Educating voters about a politician’s stance is the first step toward getting them to hold their representatives responsible -- whether by voting for someone else, protesting at their events or putting pressure on their donors.
Read more about other strategies you can use below!
Escalate Until We Win
What can you do if politicians in your area fail to address the climate crisis with the speed and scale that is needed? Put pressure on them to act.
Successful campaigns often start small and then escalate. For example, you can begin by meeting with a representative or gathering petition signatures; move on to having constituents call their office or mail in postcards if they don’t respond; and then begin planning press outreach, rallies, protests and other tactics to turn up the heat and put more pressure on them.
Make your frustration with your elected official loud and clear
Organize a call-in to an elected official’s office. Try to get as many members of your group as possible to phone in and express your dissatisfaction.
Organize a rally or protest urging elected representatives to declare a climate emergency and commit to addressing it with a massive mobilization.
Plan a long-term campaign to put pressure on a mayor or city or county council members who are unresponsive
Think about the relationships, values, and money (campaign donors and business interests) of the officials you are trying to move. Then, think about how you can use these connections to put pressure on them.
Get in touch with us if you’d like support mapping the relationships among key officials in your area.
Use tools like this Strategy Chart and other resources listed below to plan actions and events for your campaign.
Tools for Climate Mobilization Volunteers
Break the Silence
Sample commitment cards so that people who attend an educational event, launch party or kickoff meeting can pledge to take action for a safe climate
Sample petition sheet asking elected representatives to take action for a safe climate
Launch a Campaign for a Climate Emergency Declaration or Department
Meet with Elected Representatives and Candidates
Information on creating non-partisan Candidate Questionnaires and Voter Guides, from NonprofitVOTE
Escalate Until We Win
For Further Reading
Avoid Gulf Stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn by Damian Carrington
From Africa to the US to Haiti, climate change is a race issue by Patrisse Cullors and Nyeusi Nguvu
Remember This When You Talk About Standing Rock by Kelly Hayes
The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding
Climate Reality Check by David Spratt
We hope these resources are helpful in getting your city or county to treat climate change like the emergency it is.