There is an alternative to disruptive climate protest | Letters

Regarding John Harris’s article (Gossip about climate skeptics is not enough – disruptive protest now seems the only way forward, July 24), it is true that disruptive protest has been invaluable in breaking the crushing stalemate in which mainstream environmental activism got stuck I am proud to have helped launch Extinction Rebellion (XR), which, along with Greta Thunberg, facilitated this escape the most. But is disruptive protest still the only way forward?

Harris seems to assume that the only alternatives are either to support the radical flank or to be, at best, timid progressives. But the emerging strategy of the moderate flank assumes something different: that the most effective thing to do now – not to mention how bleak things are – is to meet people where they are and bring majority with us. The radical flank is not capable of doing this. This (we) briefly did in April-May 2019, but such wonderful moments are rare. There has been such a pushback against the radical flank that it is no longer credible to assume that he can actually win.

If all the eggs are put in the radical flank basket, we will lose with near certainty. If, however, we take advantage of the accomplishments of the radical flank and help a much larger cohort through the window we have opened, then even now we could win. “Winning” will not be a smooth transition; it’s far too late for that. To win now is to avoid an uncontrolled civilizational collapse.

What does such a moderate flank look like? It can be found in various post-XR venues such as Wild Card (campaigning to bring the UK back to life), Purpose Disruptors (advertisers turning their ‘dark’ arts in the service of good), Lawyers For Net Zero and the emerging network of emergency Climate Centres. This seems to be our best way forward.
Professor Rupert Read
Rockland St. Mary, Norfolk

John Harris is right to support direct climate action, but there is another option: get elected as a local councilor and adopt climate-friendly policies. Central government is responsible for national climate policies, but local councils have the flexibility to take more progressive action.

Despite financial constraints, local authorities have the ability to raise the energy standards of new council-owned buildings, ensure safe cycling and walking, ensure effective recycling of waste, increase the number of charging stations for electric vehicles, managing open spaces for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, leading the way in natural flood management, and more. They can bid for government funds to retrofit homes and decarbonize public buildings, promote local investment in renewable energy, and most importantly, engage with the public and businesses about the demands of the climate crisis.

The public is much more supportive of local climate action than the media credits. Many will vote for candidates who make reasoned and sensible arguments for progressive policies, even if they vote for a different party in the general election. Disturb if that’s fine with you – but don’t give up on getting elected.
Councilor John Dearing
Green Party, Warwick District Council

Keir Starmer promises ‘Growth, growth and growth’ (Keir Starmer: Labor will fight in next election on economic growth, July 24). Shouldn’t it focus on the climate crisis, the climate crisis, the climate crisis? The Conservatives are not interested in the climate crisis, but Labor should be.
Maggie LeMare

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