Why ‘Planet Change’ is Different Than Other Climate Change Campaigns

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Published on November 30th, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  

Planet Change? Yet another web campaign against climate change? Does the world really need one more of those?

Yes — because this one is different. And can make a real difference — especially beyond the upcoming United Nations climate meeting this December in Copenhagen.

A little over a month ago, The Nature Conservancy launched Planet Change, joining several other campaigns already in existence calling for a global agreement on climate change during Copenhagen.

Planet Change is quite different than anything the Conservancy has done before. While we weren’t asking our members to take direct action — writing their congressperson, for example — we were asking them to go on record in support of a global treaty on climate change. We were asking our users to take part in a political act in a way the Conservancy hasn’t done before on a national scale.

Planet Change is very direct and very simple. It collects your responses — thousands of them, thus far — to the simple question, “What do you want to protect from climate change?” It also leverages the power of social networks to spread our message that international action on climate change needs to happen now.

But simply asking for international action on climate change frankly isn’t enough to justify a stand-alone campaign. Lots of campaigns such as tcktcktck and 350.org are doing a great job of spreading the simple and urgent message that “the world must act now.”

So what’s different about Planet Change?

First, Planet Change embodies the Conservancy’s focused message of effectiveness on climate change. We also want to educate the general public on key and often overlooked solutions — specifically halting emissions caused by global deforestation and helping natural systems and developing communities thrive in the face of climate change. The Conservancy has unique expertise in these two areas — two areas that must be included in a final global climate change agreement in order for that agreement to be truly effective.

The message comes down to a very simple truth: Nature and people offer solutions to climate change — solutions that must be implemented to prevent and address the dangerous effects of climate change. Or, in the elegant short hand developed by Sarene Marshall, the Conservancy’s deputy director of climate change:

nature + people = solutions.

So Planet Change carries with it an inherently more subtle and complicated message than other campaigns that are building awareness on international climate change action.

But that’s not where it end. Because Planet Change has a public awareness component, it also looks beyond the Copenhagen meetings and aims to live well past the their conclusion in early December. While many people have looked at Copenhagen as a sort of end game for climate change, we feel it is just the beginning.

Even if there is a breakthrough, any agreement will need to by ratified by Congress in order to be fully binding. During this process, the critical issues of halting global deforestation and helping nature and communities adapt to climate change could be minimized for any number of reasons. We must continue to build awareness and advocacy around these issues for the foreseeable future.

Right now Planet Change is heavily focused on getting the best possible outcome from the meetings in Copenhagen, but we will not declare success or failure for the campaign on December 21st. Rather, we will take the momentum we built during this process and continue pushing our case to our members and political leaders around the world. The issue is too important and the moment is too great to do anything else.

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