Individuals and groups can influence the policies of government and business by speaking out on issues that concern us like climate change.
There are many levels at which you can advocate for change:
Sharing the environmentally sustainable changes we have made in our own lives with family and friends is a powerful way to spread the message that action must be taken on climate change. Because people are more likely to act on what people they know and trust tell them, individual advocacy is an effective way to influence those around us.
In his book The Tipping Point social researcher Malcolm Gladwell argued that once around 5 per cent of people have made a particular change, this changed behaviour will spread exponentially through society. He calls this the 'tipping point'.
If we can build a group of people around us who are committed to action on climate change, we create a network of support for ourselves which can also can become an effective instrument for spreading change even further.
See "Talking About Climate Change" for tips on talking to skeptical family and friends.
Change at a community level is vital in the fight against climate change. Firstly, it is often easier to influence people in our neighbourhood and make changes at a local level. Also, significant changes to government and business policies often depend on evidence that a community wants change to occur.
Why not make a difference in your local community by joining a climate action group? Search for a group near you by simply using Google or another search engine.
Businesses can play an influential role in curbing climate change through their own practices and their interactions with government.
Tell a business it when is doing well.
- Tell a business it needs to do more: Some businesses will only move towards environmentally sustainable practices when not doing so will threaten their profits. They tend to be resistant to change because they are more concerned about short-term profits than climate change. The fossil fuel lobby and some electricity utilities even employ lobbyists to urge politicians not to foster a more sustainable future.
Some campaigns explicitly focus on Banks, Super Funds and/or utility companies to pressure them to change. They include:
ARRCC members join a 350.org action outside a Commonwealth Bank Office
Governments will take bold steps to curb climate change only when they know they have community support. That is why it's important to speak out to our politicians and let them know this is an issue we care about. Politicians are especially impressed when their own constituents visit them or write to them personally.