The future of the climate-strike movement
Sir, – Further to Pat Leahy’s excellent article “Climate activists need to get realistic” (Opinion & Analysis, September 28th), the unprecedented scope and success of the recent climate strikes risk bringing the movement itself towards an existential crisis, leaving it at risk of dissipating and fracturing. The diverse coalition the movement has attracted has been a result of its ability to stay largely politically neutral. However, as the strikes grow and their demands become more vocal, they will need to be more decisive in their end goals; after all, vague and ill-defined calls for politicians to “do something” leave plenty of latitude for interpretation and manipulation by the actors it seeks to impel. Without direction, the movement could well end up drifting aimlessly.
Moreover, it will be impossible to avoid politicisation by others with their own agendas. Indeed, far-left groups have already infiltrated and disrupted protests, while the far-right aims to paint the movement as the alarmist puppet of the radical left. This jeopardises the credibility of climate activists and their nonpartisan goals, ultimately threatening the unity of the movement as a whole. In order to preclude this politicisation and act decisively, the climate movement should adopt a broad, non-partisan objective: giving nature a set of legal rights. I would argue that doing so would allow it to avail of a well-developed legal theory with institutional and academic backing. By asserting that nature has rights, the climate movement would concretely articulate its aims in an apolitical manner, gain credible allies, and force issues such as decarbonisation and deforestation to be legally and universally addressed. – Yours, etc,