Persuasion and climate change politics

2022-12-06

in Politics, Psychology, The environment

My PhD dissertation (which I am making the final pre-publication revisions on) is entitled: Persuasion Strategies: Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists, 2012–20.

The title has several connections to the subject matter. 350.org and the other eNGOs who proliferated the divestment movement sought to persuade student activists to run campaigns with particular objectives; they did this in part to help persuade politicians and the public that the fossil fuel industry has become an enemy to humanity. Individual divestment campaigns tried to persuade their target administrations to divest, while also persuading students to join the group and consider their political messages. Activists were also heavily involved in trying to persuade one another to adopt particular views on what caused climate change and how to solve it. Finally, the title emphasizes how the task in divestment was persuading universities and other investors to act, not “forcing” them as some activists aspired to or claimed.

On this subject of persuasion, I listened to an episode of CBC’s Front Burner podcast “Can persuasion bridge the political divide?” with Anand Giridharadas. Giridharadas makes some very clever points that relate to the arguments of Kathy Hayhoe and others about how to win political support for climate change adaptation. I ordered Giridharadas’ book, and will hopefully be able to have some engaging discussions about it with friends who are working to develop and implement effective activist strategies.

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