The shock of Trump’s Muslim ban shone a light on the rise of the right across our continent here in Europe. From Marine Le Pen in France to Brexit Britain and far beyond, right wing parties are gaining ground, peddling lies and denying climate change, sowing hatred and reinforcing existing inequalities.

Time for movements to stand together

We at in Europe believe that the climate movement must respond, for the sake of our common humanity and the success of our struggle. That’s why we published a blog post on the movement for climate justice and the muslim banand hosted a webinar to explore the issues with climate campaigners across Europe

Where can we begin?

We know we don’t have all the answers, and this is the start of the conversation for us. But we’d like to share some initial ideas for action from 350 staff, and campaigners working on climate, race and migration.

1. Take care of ourselves

When we’re in bad shape, our power is diminished — we’re less creative, more reactive, and less able to plan strategically. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. We can’t do everything all the time. Reacting from a place of panic and urgency isn’t sustainable.

If we intend to stay active and effective in the world, we have a responsibility to tend to our spirits. In the Finding Steady Ground resource, you’ll find seven behaviors we can use right away to strengthen ourselves, so we can keep taking more and more powerful and strategic actions.

2. Get educated

We need to walk before we can run.  The climate movement needs to understand the colonial basis of racism in Europe, and how many of our countries were founded on white supremacy and the enslaved labour of people of colour. Once we understand the cultural roots of racism, and more about how this plays out today, we need to understand the intersections with climate change. We also need to learn from successful historical movements that have won, to take the most effective actions. Many huge battles have been won in the past and the rights we enjoy now owe these struggles a big debt.

Here are a few suggestions to get started:

3. Take small steps

  • If you don’t have time to give, look at giving money. Could be locally, nationally or internationally. There are projects set up to support European refugees with food, shelter and even phone credit
  • Write to your local paper talking about your concerns about the rise of the right, and how this is fuelling racism as well as climate change. Try to connect this to local issues to increase the chance of coverage – e.g. right wing politics worrying you locally or nationally;  or local  immigrant / black communities under threat.
  • Attend anti-Trump protests happening in your nearest city. Make banners to take with your buddy or group. Put time into thinking about what message you want to share.
  • Join other protests on broader racism, borders, deportations or detention centres.

4. Make bigger commitments

  • Connect to groups working locally on race, migration or refugee issues. Support what they are doing however you can. Could be activism, youth work, or community organising.
  • Oppose the rise of the right at the ballot box where you are. Get involved with local organisations around elections, volunteer to canvas door to door or run a stall.
  • Bring this into your climate work. Research into and highlight connections between the fossil fuel industry and right wing politicians in your country. Is a big oil company a major donor to one of your political parties? Maybe a rightway politician has investments in the fossil fuel industry?
  • Get involved with the Global Divestment Mobilisation and bring climate impacts into your action. Pollution often affects diverse neighbourhoods, and large numbers of people of colour, the most in cities in the global north, and immediate impacts of climate change are being felt most by those living in the global south.
  • If you have a spare room, there are schemes to support people to house refugees.

Taking accountable action

We all have a  part to play. Every one of us can commit to doing something, however big or small. Either with your group or a friend, please discuss these two questions:

a) Which of the behaviours in finding steady ground would help you stay active and effective in the world? Can you commit to check in with your friend / group weekly with how you’re doing?

b) How can you, in your climate campaigning and in your life, tackle the rise of the right? Which of the suggestions below, or other ideas do you feel you can commit to? Remember to focus your energy and take care of yourself.

We learned a lot

We know we’ll make mistakes, and we want to be upfront and honest about them, learning as we go. Here are some important commitments to do things differently we’ll be taking forwards from what we learned:

  • We reacted to the rise of Trump and the Muslim ban from a place of urgency rather than strategy, which didn’t leave much time for us to connect with activists who work on issues around race and migration to get their input and advice, although it did mean our webinar was timely and drew a big crowd.
  • We realise we don’t have enough connections across Europe with groups working on issues outside of climate change. We’ll be working on this to make these connections, so we don’t have to try and make them in a hurry when we need inputs from other movements. We welcome your suggestions for groups to connect with.
  • staff are paid employees. We work with a network of people who do climate organising and campaigning on a volunteer basis. We we have requested advice on issues around race, migration, and other kinds of injustice from people in unpaid grassroots roles, in less privileged positions, and we have often failed to value their time by offering proper compensation. From now on, we will set aside some budget to provide compensation for people’s time in these kinds of circumstances, and be clear upfront that we are able and willing to pay them, rather than relying on people requesting money from us for their time.

And we’re still learning

We’d love to hear what you think of our approach so far and where you think we should go next. Please share your ideas in the comment box below.

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