Climate Action Summit 2014: Sowing the Seeds of a Movement
By Sue Cooke
The past few years have been tough for a lot of people in Australia, particularly for those concerned about climate change. In today’s political climate it is hard for Australia’s committed activists not to lose heart. Many of us have been pretty well beaten about the head and psychologically battered since the election of state and federal Liberal Coalition governments and their relentless dismantling of emissions reduction legislation and the various programs and measures that so many of us have fought so hard and so long to get off the starting blocks.
Clearly what we’ve been doing as responsible citizens and climate activists has not been working as well as we hoped it would; we haven’t built the powerful people’s movement we need for strong climate action. It is time for a new approach – not a shifting of the goalposts, but an attempt to tackle the goal from a different angle.
We have learned not to trust that our governments will lead us on this. Communities, businesses, schools, universities and industries all across Australia are looking past the political rhetoric to just get on with the job of creating the kind of sustainable future that we want to live in. While numerous clean tech businesses, regenerative enterprises and community-led energy and sustainability projects have sprung up, we have been forced to watch from the sidelines as previously supportive policy conditions have reverted to toxic, nipping promise in the bud.
Well, no point in just waiting. This year the Australian Climate Action Summit, being held for the first time in Queensland, invites civil society to help write the new narrative of innovation and regenerative solutions to the “business as usual” climate crisis. The Summit aims to unite people from all walks of life with a common goal – to sow the seeds for a transition to a clean energy, jobs rich, healthy, thriving and meaningful future for all of us.
The volunteer-run Summit reaches high and wide, aiming to be as accessible as it is inspiring and empowering. If a movement for a healthy climate is to take root, it is necessary to appeal to a broad spectrum of society, and newcomers are as important as numbers. The Summit presents an opportunity for those who have watched tentatively from the sidelines, perhaps growing increasingly worried, perhaps becoming more interested in what climate change is all about and what it means for us – and what we can do about it.
Alongside the usual wealth of new and updated information for those who want their facts fix, the Summit offers three more streams to engage the full spectrum of hearts, minds and hands.
For those who just want to know how to do what needs to be done, there is a practical skills-building stream.
For those who struggle – as most of us do – to communicate meaningfully about this most existentially important issue, there is a whole stream on how to talk about climate change without coming to blows, or to tears. This stream covers: how to reach out across political and philosophical barriers, across the busy-ness of everyday life and the multitude of much more appealing distractions we are surrounded by and seduced by; how to talk about climate change with friends, family, workmates, children, parents, professionals and business people, tradespeople, and those currently seeking meaningful employment; and, how to talk about the solutions and opportunities, as well as the worries and concerns, the hard scientific facts, the choices we have, and the timeframes in which we need to make them.
If all this sounds like too much hard work, then the “heart and soul” stream may be just the ticket. Attendees can nurture their inner activist with a range of workshops, films, music, and performance – including the results of the “Cut the Crap” stand-up climate comedy competition with local and well-known comedians.
The program for the Summit is close to being finalized, and is getting very interesting. Opportunities are also available for folks who want to get involved both before and during the Summit.
Achieving effective climate action is arguably the most meaningful and potentially rewarding way we can spend our time, and people power can prevail. Get with the movement, and bring your friends, family and workmates along for the ride! There will be something for everyone, and we’ll build the movement for all of us.
See you at the Summit in September!
Do you have a story to tell, a workshop to present, a community or business initiative or a product to showcase? Check the Climate Action Summit website right now, and contact one of the enthusiastic volunteers busily co-creating this event!
For those keen to keep up to date with the Climate Action Summit, the following details will be of use:
When? 19th – 21st September 2014
Where? Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Gardens Point campus, Brisbane, QLD
Email the Climate Action Summit 2014 team if you have any queries: firstname.lastname@example.org