The future of the green movement

The most relevant questions in assessing the likely future of the green movement seem to be the following:

• The increase in transnational activism, particularly linking green movements in the north with radical environmentalism in the south.

• The changing environmental debate and new opportunities for the greens

• Strategic divisions within the green movement

Conclusion: the future of the green movement 213 The increase in transnational activism

There are good arguments that it might be better to analyse social movements in ways that are less constrained by national boundaries (Sheller 2000; Urry 2000) because so much of social life is now about mobility of people, ideas and money across national boundaries. The green movement is a clear case in point, since greens began with concern about a global ecological crisis, global social inequalities and the power of the north in relation to the rest of the world. But to what extent can we speak of a global green movement in the sense of a social movement as defined in this book?

As defined in this book, the green movement is a phenomenon of the industrialised countries of western Europe, North America and Australasia. While there are also important environmental movements outside these countries, the green movement is a type of environmental movement specific to the more industrialised countries. Moreover, it is not simply industrialisation that leads to green movements. Although Japan has an important history of local environmental activism (Broadbent, 1998; Er Peng 1999), particularly targeted at pollution, more radical green movements, arguing for a major restructuring of society, and prepared to openly challenge the authority of political elites have only begun to emerge in the last decade and still have very little public support. For a more radical green sphere to emerge strongly in Japan would require the development of a stronger anti-authoritarian political culture.

In eastern Europe, environmental movements were one of the few forms of independent political activism tolerated by the authorities before the collapse of socialism. Environmental issues became a means for opposing the regime, as in the case of the Nagyramos dam in Hungary. But since 1989, despite continuing severe environmental problems, environmental activism has mostly declined, as the focus has been on catching up with the west economically, dealing with major structural changes as a consequence of transition to capitalism and questions of national identity

Another cultural factor may explain the weakness of green radicalism in both eastern Europe and Japan. If the green movement emerged partly as a consequence of changes in the western Left, as argued in Chapter Two, the absence of comparable forms of left networks and traditions in Japan and eastern Europe may also explain the weakness of green movements.

The argument that the green movement is a global movement is based on two trends. First, the growth of institutions of international environmental governance in the 1990s has provided opportunities for NGOs from both north and south to become more involved in consultation on treaty negotiations. (Kellow 2000; Rootes 1999; Arts 1998). Second, there is an increasing network of ties between northern and southern environmental groups, including radical groups. There have been increasing efforts to construct alliances between western and non-western EMOs, but at the international level the distinction between non-green EMOs such as WWF and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (now the World Conservation Union) and green EMOs such as FOE also applies. For instance, WWF, the IUCN and the 'Big

Six' US EMOs including the NRDC, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society were increasingly co-opted within the UNCED process while FOE, Greenpeace and other EMOs avoided co-option, remained politically critical and sought to establish ties with development-oriented groups in the south. (Finger 1994).

The resources of western EMOs can make them powerful actors internationally. WWF invests millions in conservation programmes in eastern Europe and the south and is often seen as a conduit for western influence, through its close relationship with western governments. At times this leads to actions that would be questionable from the green ideological standpoint.1 For instance, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the International Union for Nature Conservation were among the powerful western EMOs who supported the 'shoot to kill policy' used against poachers in Kenya's wildlife parks that led to the deaths of over 100 people between 1989 and 1991. The creation of Kenyan wildlife parks had involved the displacement of tribal people without compensation and a tough anti-human policy was in the interests of the political and economic elite who benefited most from Kenya's tourist trade. A former deputy director of WWF International, Henner Ehringhaus, described the fate of those who questioned this narrow environmentalism:

The old school is interested in animals, plants and protected areas. They are interested in people and development as an instrument to protect the forests. The new school is interested in sustainable development, meeting human needs, helping people improve their agriculture, and working with local communities in a more integrated approach to nature conservation. What we have seen is those of the new school fired, and those of the old school promoted.

(The Guardian, 18 November 1995, quoted in Purdue 2000: 88)

It is not only the non-green EMOs that are powerful actors in international governance. Kellow (2000) analyses the role of Greenpeace International, in relation to bodies such as UNEP. The latter has a budget of a mere $20m, whereas in 1997 Greenpeace had a budget of around $140m. Bodies such as UNEP benefit from the mobilising capacity and scientific expertise of groups such as Greenpeace. Moreover, Greenpeace's resources are not only financial, but also political and technical. Greenpeace can use the media effectively and it has a mass support in the most powerful western countries that can put pressure on national governments (Rootes 1999). It is probably this popular pressure that explains the coincidence of the positions advanced by Greenpeace with those of the German government in the Kyoto climate change negotiations. Yet, as Kellow (2000) suggests, when combined with the concentration of Greenpeace membership in a few countries, this qualifies the claim of Greenpeace to be global.

Links between environmental activists from the north and the south are increasing. Keck and Sikkink (1998) chart the growth of transnational networking of NGOs, particularly linking groups from the industrialised countries with those in the south. Cheaper air travel, the internet and satellite technology have made transnational networking easier. In the past such links were largely limited to NGOs with the resources to travel, but since the internet reduced the cost of communication, contact and the co-ordination of protest action between grassroots activists has increased. This has been evident in particular in multi-country protests such as those against the G8 Summits in Birmingham (1998) and Cologne (1999) and the WTO meeting in Seattle (1999). In the Summer of 1999 a transnational network of grassroots activists linked under the banner of People's Global Action, organised an Inter-Continental Caravan of activists from the south, which toured western Europe in an effort to allow activists to put their case directly to western publics and politicians. Nevertheless accounts of the caravan, also reveal some of the obstacles to the development of a global environmental movement. There were major differences of outlook and styles of organisation between some of the activists from India and their hosts in Britain and Germany and clashes over gender and hierarchical organisation. Tensions over environment and the nature of development also arose between the more radical EMOs from the north and development-oriented environmental groups from the south during the UNCED process (Finger 1994: 210).

Guha has argued that most Third World environmental groups do not share a common identity with western environmentalists:

Where Northern environmentalism has highlighted the significance of value change (the shift to 'postmaterialism'), Southern movements seem to be more strongly rooted in material conflicts, with the claims of economic justice - that is, the rights to natural resources of poorer communities -being an integral part of green movements.

But, since the ideological framework sharedby western greens gives prominence to material conflicts they cannot be accurately characterised as postmaterialists. Instead their materialism is often on behalf of other groups. If alliances are to increase it is likely to be on the basis of such materialist struggles. For instance, Van der Heijden (1999) notes the common rejection of development-oriented discourses such as ecological modernisation and sustainable development by counter-cultural radicals in the West and Third World and Taylor (1995: 320) makes a similar argument in stressing that threats to human livelihood provide the most important reason for the emergence of ecological resistance movements and link grassroots activists in the Third World and local environmental groups, often from poorer communities, in richer countries (1995: 336). Direct action groups in the west have targeted businesses involved in rainforest destruction in the Third World, or dam builders, who were already being opposed by environmental groups in Third World countries, making it more difficult for western companies to get away with environmental and social injustices where they are more politically vulnerable in the west.

Third World environmentalism is often radical, and rarely single-issue envir-onmentalism (Haynes 1999). Even movements that begin as largely environmental ones, such as that against the Narmada dam in India, broaden their agenda because arguments about the environment become arguments about appropriate development and democracy. There is no doubt, therefore, that there are radical environmental movements in the Third World and that many of these are social movements as defined in this book. The prominent role of figures such as Vandana Shiva the Indian radical environmentalist within transnational green networks supports the view that common agendas are developing, particularly in opposition to neo-liberalism.

There is as yet, however, no global green movement. Environmental conflicts in the south are bound up with the degree of democracy and repression and the opportunities for mobilisation differ considerably. In countries such as India with a strong democratic system there is more space for environmental activism, and in Latin America, community-based environmental conflicts have been an important motor of democratisation (Foweraker 1995). But, in most countries in the south where they exist at all EMOs are small, and grassroots struggles against the environmental effects of development isolated and often repressed violently. Most transnational networking still depends on the greater resources of northern EMOs and activists.

The green movement as analysed in this book is very much a product of western structures and culture. There are points of connection and common interest between western greens and radical environmentalists in the south, but also major differences of context and tradition. More certain is that the agendas of western greens and non-western environmentalists will continue to change as a result of mutual contacts and engagement with global ecological governance. Although they have long been committed to seeking global solutions, the main challenge faced by radical environmentalists is how to build an argument that combines social justice in a form that is acceptable and persuasive in both north and south. Ideas such as contraction and convergence, developed by the Global Commons Institute, in order to seek a means of furthering international agreement on climate change, have widespread support in the green movement. Contraction and convergence is based on the idea that the western countries need to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases in order that non-western countries can expand economically, but this redistribution must occur within a framework compatible with sustainability. Through this and similar ideas such as that of 'environmental space' which, as the Danish group NOAH puts it, means 'that every person in the world has the right (but not the duty) to use the same amount of natural resources and produce the same amount of pollution' and 'ecological debt', according to which the West owes other countries for the greater ecological damage it has produced, the greens are seeking ways to develop the arguments for global ecological solutions alongside a recognition of the need for the west to reduce its consumption.

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