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Obstacles and opportunities: an analysis of climate change campaigns by Australian NGOs
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 18:48 authored by Nina Lansbury Hall
For over 20 years, Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) have campaigned for recognition of the threat of climate change and for an adequate political response. Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Yet, until 2006, Australian Federal Government Ministers were still openly expressing a sceptical attitude regarding the link between human greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. These views contrasted with NGO campaign efforts and growing public concern regarding climate change. In late 2007, Federal election exit polls revealed that climate change ranked as the third most important issue to electorates in marginal seats, and the newly-elected Rudd Labor Government ratified the Kyoto Protocol. This research identified obstacles encountered by NGOs and opportunities available to NGOs to better realise their climate campaign goals. It explored the reasons for the political shift on climate change and the role played by NGOs in this shift. Forty-eight semi-structured interviews were conducted. These included interviews with campaigners from seven Australian NGOs, four UK NGOs and six Californian NGOs. Interviews were also undertaken with grassroots climate activists and 'external observers' of the NGO campaigns. The research drew upon social change theory to map the effectiveness of a campaign, or apparent lack of it. Comparative analyses found the apparent achievements by NGOs in the UK and California appeared to stem from more conducive political and policy conditions. To test the theoretical findings, the researcher undertook a participatory action research project to develop and present the grassroots-initiated Climate Protection Bill to Federal Parliamentarians in the lead-up to the Federal election. The greatest current opportunity for Australian NGOs is the recent election of the Rudd Government on a commitment to address climate change. This election result was due, in part, to the long-term, persistent campaign efforts by Australian NGOs.