From Anger to Optimism.

The Climate Movement was born out of the deep dark silence of what industrialisation was doing to our planet.

We were making Mother Earth sick and it seemed no one wanted to talk about it. Especially not the people holding the microphones. Not the CEO’s of the companies digging her wounds, not the Prime Ministers or Presidents pocketing her pounds of flesh. Not those who were indoctrinated with the falsehoods that there was no other way to drive fast cars, build businesses, to have, to own, to be. Those who believed extraction and individual freedoms come hand in hand.

In its infancy of the 1990’s, the Climate Movement needed to be loud, deafening and demanding. There was much ground work to be done. There were many in denial. Worse still, there were many in denial who had skin in the game. Those were the most dangerous ones. There were (and still are) many bullies with much power to bury information, buy solutions and block progress (hello Exxon, how are you these days?). Shining a light where there was so much darkness, felt like the keys to the climate-safe kingdom.

Meanwhile along the way, the many many many more who were ready to hear, heard. and gathered.

By 2009, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the climate movement began to really show its teeth and mobilisation power on a global scale. Between 40,000 and 100,000 people attended a march calling for a global agreement on climate. At that time goal was still to legitimise the crisis. To get World Leaders to admit it existed.

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CNN — People participating in a ‘flashmob’ ahead of the U.N.climate change conference in Copenhagen 2009

Seven years later, after many stories of tragedy, predictions of complete demise, black skies and flattened skylines, after cyclone and typhoon, after flood and drought, after freeze and fire, something amazing happened.

In 2016, the (THEN) MAJOR goal of the Climate Movement was realised.

After years of good work by both those in the diplomatic engine rooms and those outside making the noise, we finally got the World Leaders to agree we had a problem. Under the careful custody of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, the Paris Agreement was signed in November 2016.

Paris united World Leaders under the acceptance that we are in trouble and things need to change. Hands were shaken. Hands were clapped. Hands were raised in the air in triumph. Then hands quickly fell back onto hips. “What now?”

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Carbon Brief — COP21 Paris Agreement

The world had agreed, the debate was over.

After Paris, the Climate Movement didn’t stop fighting. The marches continued, the message strengthened and the power grew. The masses listened, the minorities (finally) started to take centre stage, and the politically middle-minded moved.

6 million people took to the streets in September 2019. To remind World Leaders that regardless of agreements, change can’t wait. On all accounts, these are positive and beautiful things.

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Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences — The Climate Protests of 2019

However as the Climate Movement changed the hearts and minds of the planet, on many frontiers we didn’t change the way we fought.

The Climate Movement has always fought from the corner. Sometimes it is difficult to for the little guy to admit he has become a big guy. We now cross culture wars and parliament floors. We are bigger than a generation, a figure-head, a left or green or hippie label. No longer the bohemian, we are a behemoth of the majority.

According the Pew Research Centre, almost 70% of the global population consider Climate Change to be a real and major threat. A following 20% believe it to be a minor threat, but a threat non-the-less. It is clear the world is talking and more importantly, we are listening to each other.

If the Climate Movement was a dinner party, nearly everyone is already here.

The conversation is good, the company is great, the music is playing and we do not need to spend more time or energy on the few of people who aren’t at the party (yet).

Let us not worry so much about who didn’t want to come. Or whose parents (political funders) told them they weren’t allowed to. We certainly don’t need to worry about those who don’t believe in parties at all. Even in their make-believe reality where Climate Change doesn’t exist, soon they will realise that no matter the case, they are due to run out of fossil fuels somewhere between 2060 and 2090. And when that happens, they are going to be pretty interested in what we are up to.

It is it’s time to focus on what is happening inside.

We have bubbling answers to problems and new ways of doing things. We have solar and wind that is cheaper than oil. We have children with creativity and entrepreneurs with answers. We have industries ready and waiting, both new and converted. We have people in all levels of governments and intergovernmental forums, who were us, before we were us. We have deep indigenous knowledge coupled with new scientific frontiers. We have the solutions, the market share and the stakeholders. We have the people who remember that to be human, is to a be problem-solver. We are the species who invented the knife. We built the shelter. We landed on the moon. We discovered the atom. We harnessed the sun. We are humanity. We have everything we need right here.

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Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash

So maybe we don’t need to yell (as much) anymore.

Even if it is to a rich ex President (hello again Donald!) it is beginning to feel like punching down. Regardless of their fleeting titles, the people not here are grossly outnumbered and we can simply move around them. We do not need to give anyone the false impression that they control our dinner party. Let’s leave them be playing hot potato in their little red and blue, left and right parties that most people hot-tailed out of a long time ago.

The best thing we can do now, is the same thing we tell our children to do about bullies. Ignore them. Wait for them to grow up. And most importantly, model what being a respectful grown up looks like.

The Climate Movement is not sidelined anymore. We are not in the corner. We do not need to scream the house down. We are in the house, we are at the table of designing tomorrow. Let’s make sure we act like it.

Let’s get back to work. Coordinate, motivate and co-create. Let’s keep this thing moving, and the rest will come along, when they come along. If we really want a different, more just and inclusive world, let’s start at this huge amazing, highly attended dinner table. Let’s radiate the real hope that’s out there, leave the door open for more to to join, and play some Eta James.

By Matisse Walkden-Brown. (As seen on Medium)


  1. Sarah Berkman

    I just love the way you write Matisse!

    This is such an important message and so well delivered 👏🏼 👏🏼 👏🏼 Thank you for expressing thoughts that I can’t organise properly 😂 Bravo!

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