Confronting Climate Change: Environmental Movements, NGOs and Others in England.

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:30
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Christopher ROOTES, School of Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research, University of Kent, CANTERBURY, United Kingdom
The history of environmental groups and organizations in England is long and rich. Despite decades of organizational innovation and the proliferation of new groups, the successful conservation organizations of the late 19th century are still the largest environment NGOs in the country. By the 1990s, around one in five adults was a member of one of more environmental NGOs, and organized environmental interests enjoyed relatively good access to policymakers. Climate change was, however, not a pre-eminent concern of established environmental NGOs, partly because they already had other, more particular issue profiles, but also because UK political elites were relatively quick to recognize the importance of climate change, and to take it up, particularly in international forums. By and large, major ENGOs were content to contract an awkward issue out to the Climate Action Network, of which all became members. This changed after 2000, when it became clear that elite international deliberations were failing to deliver action proportionate to the problem. Thereafter, street demonstrations were organized at least annually to demand action on climate change, and new, more activist groups were formed, often with the support of established NGOs. The formation of the broad Stop Climate Chaos coalition in 2005 presaged the campaign by Friends of the Earth that led to the passage in 2008 of the Climate Change Act. Less visibly, a plethora of new, grassroots groups became active in the same decade – from the Carbon Reduction Action Groups and the Greening Campaign to the Transitions Movement, which prescribed ‘energy descent’ as a response to climate change and peak oil. This paper examines the dilemmas of both formal NGOs and grassroots groups as they confront increasing urgency of action on climate change and the continuing impact of financial crisis.