10:10 and Climate Camp

Over the past few years there have been thousands of climate campaigns, all with the ultimate goal of mitigating and eventually reversing global climate change. This is an undeniably unique and difficult challenge. The scale and complexity of the problem, scanning across countries, industries, governments and populations, raises the important question of how best to focus campaign efforts.

Two recent high-profile and contrasting climate campaigns, Climate Camp and 10:10, offer some interesting considerations for this debate.

The Climate Camp takes an unusually grass-roots and direct-action approach. In this year’s location, Blackheath, a mini-village is erected and filled with a motley crew of seasoned protesters, university students, and local residents just stopping in to provide support.

The 10:10 campaign, on the other hand, takes a more corporate and top-down approach. Organized by Franny Armstrong, the producer of The Age of Stupid, the campaign asks people, businesses, and the government to make a 10 percent reduction in emissions by 2010 (hence 10:10!).

Both have been successful in their own unique way, but neither is without fault.

Climate Camp has raised eyebrows for including a middle-class demographic. The willingness of protest newbies and non-students to mingle in a smelly and rag-tag tent city has demonstrated that climate worries are far more mainstream than the political debate indicates.

The Camp success is limited, however, but its inevitable disorganization. There is no leadership or hierarchy in the camp, and all decisions are taken by consensus. There is no branding, PR professionals, or political engagement beyond what the group pulls together as they go.

10:10 on the other hand, has plenty of press. It raised eyebrows for its corporate and celebrity buy-in. The launch at the Tate Modern attracted a swarm of celebrities and high-profile executives. And so far over 300 companies and thousands of individuals have signed on.

10:10 has drawn considerable criticism lately, however, for bending over backwards to accommodate corporate buy-in. The 10 percent carbon reduction is much easier for the most heavily polluting companies, and the 12 month deadline has been extended considerably by letting companies choose what month of they year they want to begin the challenge on.

Ultimately both campaigns are too little too late. There is no way that either can make a direct contribution to climate change mitigation. But they can go a long way in raising the profile of the issue, getting political support, and wider buy-in. Ultimately too both types of campaigns and everything in-between are needed.

Yet we all have limited time and attention, so healthy debate about what works best always helps. What do you think about the campaigns?