The Stream

Will embracing climate sabotage help save the planet?

On Thursday, August 25 at 19:30 GMT:
For decades, climate activists have tried to sound the alarm on a warming planet. But protests, marches, boycotts, petitions, strikes and other non-violent means of drawing attention to climate change have not stopped fossil fuel emissions from increasing. As extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires and storms proliferate, some activists are arguing for more drastic action: climate sabotage.

Last month, activists in New York deflated the tires of gas-guzzling SUVs in a rich neighborhood to protest their emissions. And in southern France this month, a separate group filled golf course holes with cement after golf greens were exempted from water bans during a severe drought. On a bigger scale, vandals in Canada caused millions of dollars in damage this year and halted operations on a key worksite for a multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline project.

Those in favor of sabotage argue that time is running out to make any meaningful change to the world’s climate trajectory. But many critics are questioning the effectiveness of an escalation strategy. They say destroying property undermines the climate movement’s credibility and alienates supporters. However, experts forecast acts of sabotage will multiply as the urgency to act grows.

Speaking to The Guardian last month, Dana Fisher, a sociologist and expert on environmental protests, said: “There are a lot of people who care about the environment who are very disappointed and are looking for a protest tactic… It wouldn’t surprise me if these actions are the start of something more confrontational and more destructive. I can see it exploding at some point.”

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the pitfalls and pros of climate sabotage, and what it will take to finally change the status quo.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Andreas Malm
Professor of Human Ecology, Lund University

Charlotte Grubb, @CharlotteGrubb
Climate Activist

Nisreen Elsaim, @NisreenElsaim
Climate Activist