Civil disobedience for the climate?

Civil disobedience is something that is not very common in Sweden, and is associated with being rowdy and uncompromising. Many believe that we have a well-functioning society where it is the individual’s duty to follow the law and maintain order. Can that be true, while there are also reasons to not comply? If so, could the climate be such an issue? We at GoClimateNeutral believe that the climate crisis is so big that we need to explore all ways to act on it, and with this post we want to inform about one method already applied, both to create understanding of it and at the same time inspire one another to find new ways to get engaged that suits everyone.

Civil disobedience is defined as the citizen’s active refusal to comply with a law or an order from the government, in order to change society. It is a non-violent method to highlight that something in society is morally wrong, and therefore one does not agree to be involved in it. Resorting to civil disobedience as a method can be seen as a last resort, when the formal paths to drive change have not worked.

Peaceful demonstration against climate change

What can be important to bear in mind when considering whether civil disobedience is a good or bad method of social change, is that it is difficult to imagine a change before it has happened. What would the United States look like without slavery? How would England work if women were allowed to vote? Today, we generally agree that slavery is wrong and voting rights are a right regardless of gender, and using that reasoning we must also assume that in a hundred years’ time our grandchildren will be living in a society that has undergone even more changes. Moreover, the pace of change seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down, so it is reasonable to believe that we are not living in the most highly developed form of a human society yet.

What has civil disobedience actually accomplished historically? Perhaps the most well-known example is Mahatma Ghandi’s struggle for India’s independence from British colonial power, which included a long march in which he broke the salt law. Another person who today is praised for her courage is Rosa Parks, who refused to leave her seat on the bus in Montgomery to let a white passenger sit. Women’s suffrage is another example of what has been accomplished, however that struggle did involve violence. It can thus be individuals as well as groups and movements who perform civil disobedience, but neither Ghandi nor Parks acted alone.

More and more people gather to demonstrate for a societal change towards a sustainable planet

In 2018, Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament to strike for the climate. She thus violated the Swedish Education Act, arguing “why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”. Greta is perhaps a special case in civil disobedience because she does not violate the law that she believes is the problem, but does so to raise another issue. We at GoClimateNeutral are convinced that Greta’s morality is right, and that we as a society must change to live in accordance with it. The fact that Greta is a child who is not going to school has undeniably been a thorn in the side for many around the world. The fact that she has become the front person of Fridays For Future, where millions of children around the world follow her example and strike from school, is both proof of the reach that civil disobedience can achieve and the seriousness that today’s children and young people feel about the climate issue.

Within the environmental movement, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are two organizations that use civil disobedience to call for attention and push environmental issues. Greenpeace’s actions often target large companies and directly block operators from engaging in environmentally harmful activities, while Extinction Rebellion’s actions have instead intended to cripple society and influence the masses by blocking bridges and roads. Both organizations are considered controversial, although many believe that their work highlights major problems that we have to handle.

How you choose to engage yourself in the climate issue is your own choice, and we at GoClimateNeutral hope that we can contribute to a transition to a sustainable society as quickly as possible. Committing civil disobedience is a method that has had a major impact historically on important issues, and it is already part of the environment and climate movement. Civil disobedience continues to be a relevant option because it is clear that systemic changes are not occurring at the pace necessary to secure a habitable planet in the not too distant future.

No matter what you do with your time and engagement, you can always combine that with compensating for your carbon footprint through us at GoClimateNeutral. This way, you can do as much good as possible for the climate!

Our team is growing and doing more good for the climate than ever before!

We have recently almost doubled the number of team members at GoClimateNeutral, with three new co-creators that allow us to proceed even faster and more efficiently towards our goal of creating a better tomorrow and a healthier planet.

Alexandra Palmquist is GoClimateNeutral’s climate advisor who came to us from the United Nations Development Programme in Bolivia, where she worked on climate and environmental projects. Previous positions include the European Commission in Belgium and the NGO We Effect, where Alexandra was stationed in Mozambique. Alexandra will work with measuring and reducing both individual and corporate climate impacts, and review of the climate projects we finance. Outside of work Alexandra recharges her energy by going running or dancing tango!

Tove Westling is the founder of the London-based PR agency VARG, which has worked with the establishment of brands such as Dagmar, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen, Filippa K, CDLP and Samsøe Samsøe on the British market. Tove has also been responsible for the agency’s focus on sustainability, and managed Vestiaire Collective’s PR in Scandinavia. With us, she works primarily with increasing climate commitment both locally in Scandinavia and globally. Beyond the climate issue, Tove’s heart is pounding for animal rights, above all with a commitment to stray dogs around the world.

Emma Bäckström is a trained civil engineer in media technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and has most recently worked as a developer at Mentimeter. At GoClimateNeutral, in addition to development, she also works with user experience and product development of our web service. In addition to saving the world, Emma wants to pet dogs and go running in the woods!

Besides the fact that we find it so exciting to have a living, growing team, we are extremely happy about what climate benefits this entails – as we can see that the number of co-creators is directly related to how much difference we make for the benefit of the climate. In 2017 we contributed to 660 avoided tonnes of CO2e per co-creator, in 2018 18, 000 avoided tonnes and in 2019 36,670 avoided tonnes per co-creator. We look forward to expanding the team further in 2020 and thus make even more positive difference!

How can we live climate-friendly lives in 2020?

Live a climate-friendly life.

What is the most important action one can take for the climate in 2020? Well, different actions have different effects. Try to think big. If it feels awkward to go out in the streets and demonstrate or contact politicians, take a digital course in climate action instead to get an understanding for what the most important thing you can do is.

Become an active citizen and put pressure on systems, rules and norms to change. You can do this by:

  • Think BIG! Take a free digital quick course – the Climate Leader – in how you can influence at a system level.
  • Influence your tenant owners’ association. Ask them for example to install solar panels and chargers for electric vehicles, improve insulation to lower your energy consumption, change into renewable electricity and introduce sharing services like carsharing. In addition to having a lower climate footprint, it also makes your apartment block more attractive and resilient for the future.
  • Put pressure on your workplace, your university or school. Ask if they have a climate-smart travel policy in place, if they can introduce a veggie first policy and advise them on calculating their climate footprint. We have developed a tool for that here.
  • Demonstrate – join us, FridaysforFuture, Extinction Rebellion or a friend during the next climate strike  if you feel a bit new and lonely in this type of context.
  • Support End Ecocide to make large-scale environmental degradation a crime. Fracking is one example that could potentially count as ecocide. Sign petitions, make a donation so that small island nations can afford to have representatives in place at international climate negotiations or get involved in the movement locally.
  • Contact your political party and demand that they adopt a policy in line with the Paris Agreement.
  • Carbon offset your lifestyle and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy around the world.

Become a conscious consumer. Reduce your own climate footprint and gain better knowledge of which area you should focus on. What makes the biggest difference for the climate – replacing the car with a bike for distances under 3 km or recycling every single package? Below we list what has the greatest climate impact for an individual.

  • Think half. Do half of the things that have the biggest carbon footprint in your life – eat half as much red meat, fly half as many times, buy half of the apparel and footwear you normally buy and use your car half as much. Or, focus twice as much on of what has a low climate footprint. Maximize your cycling, your train holidays and your vegan eating (tips – try Veganuary). Choose ONE area to focus on and it is more likely that it will happen.
  • Become a circulator instead of a consumer. Start using sharing services for stuff and transportation.
  • Check out the performance of your financial institutions at FairFinanceGuide and use your influence to demand change. Financial institutions like banks and insurance companies can use your money to facilitate the destruction of our planet by investing in for example coal companies. Ask them to stop doing that!
  • Work less and enjoy life!

UK Parliament unanimously passed the motion to declare environment and climate emergency

Extinction Rebellion Brussels by Nour Livia

Mayday May Day

The first of May is a day of importance every year, by celebrating labourers and the working class. But on the first of May 2019 this day made history with a massive step forward in the fight against Climate Change, as the UK Parliament declared Environment and Climate Emergency.

The votes were unanimous and this is hopefully just the first of many nations to take the same step in declaring a state of emergency. And while this is a thing to celebrate, we must not let our fists down and think this will change anything. We must put pressure on the politicians to make necessary changes. Words have no meaning without action.


But let’s back up a little.

What does it even mean to “declare a state of emergency” for a nation?

A government can declare a state of emergency during a disaster or warfare and gives the government power to take actions that they normally wouldn’t be authorized to.

When a nation declares emergency it also sends a clear signal to the citizens that there indeed is an emergency, and that changes most likely will be made to deal with said emergency.

Nowadays, a lot of legislations and changes takes a very long time to pass.

A state of emergency gives the government freedom to make important decisions faster.

Because no matter how bleak it sounds, we are indeed in the midst of an enormous crisis. The biggest crisis and challenge since the history of mankind. And we need to act fast. The people with the power to make big changes need to be able to act now. Because we are running out of time.

What now?

As mentioned before, without action this declaration means very little. Hopefully it will lead to more nations taking after the U.K. and vote to declare Climate and Ecological Emergency as well.

Extinction Rebellion and other environmental movements and activists need to keep fighting. Keep spreading the pressure on people in power, and gaining more support from the people.

Because even though it’s the people in power who can make the large changes, they won’t do it unless there’s enough pressure from the people.

And we, the people must act now.

Illustration by Ingram Pinn in Financial Times

This post is written by our blogger Evelina Utterdahl. You can read more about her here

Introduction of our new blogger, Evelina Utterdahl

My name is Evelina Utterdahl and I will be blogging here at Go Climate Neutral from now on.

I thought an introduction would be suitable so that you know a little bit more about who’s behind the thoughts and words to come.

Picture from Tbilisi, Georgia in June 2018 to where I went from Iran through Armenia, before traveling back towards Europe. All without flying.

Born and raised in the west of Sweden and I travel full time since 2,5 years and basically everything I do has some relation to sustainability and how to fight global warming.

I do talks at events, schools or organisations of which most of them are about sustainable travel, and how to travel without flying.

Social media is also kinda my thing, and I post on my own account @earthwanderess as well as being the coordinator of the international Instagram account for Extinction Rebellion. I also do the instagram for @vihallerosspajorden who started the campaign Flight Free 2020 where I am also part of the board.

You can also expect me to be part of taking care of our Instagram account at @goclimateneutral.

A bit of background of to how I got here. It started off with me traveling a lot and with that experience started writing travel articles for an online site.

While I was aware of airplanes being bad for the environment, I had no comprehension of just how big of an impact it had. I learned the numbers while stumbling over an article and was horrified. I felt so fooled as the whole world was acting as if flying airplanes and traveling across the world for leisure was something that we could do. As if it wasn’t as bad as it actually is.

I decided to quit flying that day.

From the Swedish TV show PLUS in October 2018, where I came on and talked about how to travel sustainably

The realisation of how little information about the severity of the situation we’re in had me needing to dig deeper and find out as much as I possibly could to lower my individual impact as well as use my rather big platform on social media to spread the knowledge I collected.

I am very excited to be able to come here on this platform on Go Climate Neutral, to reach a new audience where I can share all the thoughts and information that I pick up on a daily basis.

I hope you will learn new things and hopefully that my posts will also enable you to start conversations with friends, family and colleagues.

If you have any ideas of topics you’d like me to bring up, or if you have any feedback for my posts please feel free to send me a message at:

[email protected]