Variations and Continuities of Motives for Climate Protest: A Comparison of Cop-15 Protesters in Copenhagen 2009 with Cop-19 Protesters in Warsaw 2013

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Mattias WAHLSTRÖM , University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
In connection with the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen 2009, many activists had (at least reasonably) high hopes about successfully pushing for a new international climate agreement. After the complete stalemate between different country positions in Copenhagen, many climate activists lost their faith in the possibilities of achieving substantially changed international climate policies through the COP meetings. Four years later, facing the COP-19 meeting in Warsaw 2013, the climate movement mobilizes protest in a political situation with ostensibly more limited political opportunities. How do participants’ motives for protest and sense of efficacy vary between two equivalent climate protests when political opportunities change over time? The paper also explores shifts between the two points in time regarding what political strategies the participants in transnational climate demonstrations claim to prioritize. This is analysed based on two surveys of protest participants, one collected at the largest demonstration during the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen 2009, and the other one at the main climate demonstration during the COP-19 meeting in Warsaw 2013. The data collection is based on a strict standardized methodology established in the international research programme CCC (Caught in the act of protest, Contextualizing Contestation) which ensures reliability as well as comparability across protest events. Inevitably, the research design not only involves comparison of cross-sections of climate protest participants over time, it is simultaneously a comparison of two national mobilizing contexts. However, these two aspects can be sufficiently disentangled by controlling for demonstrators' country of origin in the highly transnational demonstrations. The study aims to contribute to current scientific discussions about protest mobilization, as well as to tap into the contemporary developments of the (European) climate movement, from the perspective of individual climate protesters.