Proposal for community-driven, accessible, direct boycotts of fossil fuels

Protest sizes have dwindled. Thunberg continues to post a photo each week, and rarely is she in the company of more than 10 people. I feel silly attending rallies and pretending that this is working.

Short overview of problem space

Strikes and mass gatherings have all had an important role in directing attention to different causes.

But I question whether these actions are as "direct" as they can be, in the case of the climate movement.

The main criticisms that I have with something like a school strike include

  • Doesn't directly affect fossil fuel usage. Its immediate impact on you is far more than on the fossil fuel companies. The person most affected by the strike from school or work is yourself. Not the fossil fuel companies — it doesn’t directly impact their bottom line. It's you.
  • Unable to commit to sustained periods of intense pressure. People aren't usually in positions to strike from school or work very often. You may notice that Fridays for Future, for example, holds only a few major strikes a year — usually around March, September and another one around the COP.

Some of their climate activists like to brag that "they can’t ignore us now". Sorry, what — a few major strikes a year? Sorry to burst bubbles, but surely you could imagine that this is quite a petty amount of pressure compared to the daily churn of news cycles that politicians get.

I would argue that even once a week is not all that effective, because of the first reason (that it doesn’t really impact fossil fuel company bottom-lines)

Alternative options

This is where I would like to seek others' inputs and help.

Parameters

I would look at a few different parameters for what would contribute to effective, sustained pressure:

  • path of least resistance, for the end user participant
  • can be continuously managed
  • directly resolves the problem for community participants, even if the government doesn’t do anything about it

(I’m not exploring blockades in this case, though feel free to write a separate topic on that — I don’t think they directly address the first parameter that I mentioned, because the path of least resistance for most people is still just to use the same source of electricity after a coal blockade. Or the third parameter, as people would want to just go on another road to work on a road blockade, or whatever.)

Ideas

Constructive criticism is highly encouraged. You may have ideas that might be more scalable, more direct or more achievable.

  • Communities boycott fossil fuel-generated electricity and use backup sources of clean power.
  • Communities fundraise money for their own electric buses.
  • People can fundraise money for others
  • Prolonged and sustained boycotts, extensions of Earth Hour and car-free days

Policy suggestions

Some people don’t like giving specific policy ideas. But I think it is an opportunity to highlight concrete precedents for allocating resources. Declaring general climate emergencies has been a frequent but vague request from activists, such that an emergency is declared in name and the request has been deemed met, even though in practice it means little change.

  • Australian Prime Minister Howard doing gun buy-back scheme.
  • Vaccines have been made free.

Could similar frameworks be put in place for the sale of electric vehicles, and clean energy sources? Right now, even with a rebate, it still costs about $2,000 AUD to install solar in Victoria. New electric vehicles are about three times the price of new fuel-powered cars.

Concrete policy proposals

  • private transport — offer people the option to trade their current car for a new electric vehicle for free, rather than waiting for X% of new vehicle sales to be electric. If electric cars are bought in bulk, they can be priced at about $20,000 each. Consider the JobSeeker supplement, which was an extra $550 a week. $500x40 weeks would be also $20,000 for a person who is working. The government has been able to fork out this money before in the event of what has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic, and we argue that this measure is also necessary in the course of a once-in-an-era mass extinction.
  • offer people the option to switch to solar for free.
  • heating and cooling
  • food
  • aviation