One passage from Pierre Trudeau’s Federalism and the French Canadians strikes me as especially relevant to climate change organizing:
In a non-revolutionary society and in non-revolutionary times, no manner of reform can be implanted with sudden universality. Democratic reformers must proceed step by step, convincing little bands of intellectuals here, rallying sections of the working class there, and appealing to the underprivileged in the next place. The drive towards power must begin with the establishment of bridgeheads, since at the outset it is obviously easier to convert specific groups or localities than to win over an absolute majority of the whole nation.
Consequently, radical strategy must be designed to operate under the present electoral system of one-man constituencies.
While all this seems plausible, it is also cause for special concern in the area of climate change. Political change may be necessarily incremental, but the time we have left in which to change the trajectory of future emissions is short. There is a long lag between when we produce greenhouse gas pollution and when we feel the full effects, and there is an enormous danger that by the time our politics has awoken to the reality of the permanent harm we are causing, we will have committed ourselves to an extreme quantity of harm.