The 3.5% hope for climate strike students


The next climate strike by students is this Friday and I will be accompanying my wee daughter again. Detractors moan that their actions mean nothing and can achieve nothing.

Thankfully the BBC is here to prove the detractors wrong.

The 3.5% rule

Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.

In 1986, millions of Filipinos took to the streets of Manila in peaceful protest and prayer in the People Power movement. The Marcos regime folded on the fourth day.

In 2003, the people of Georgia ousted Eduard Shevardnadze through the bloodless Rose Revolution, in which protestors stormed the parliament building holding the flowers in their hands.

Earlier this year, the presidents of Sudan and Algeria both announced they would step aside after decades in office, thanks to peaceful campaigns of resistance.  

In each case, civil resistance by ordinary members of the public trumped the political elite to achieve radical change.

There are, of course, many ethical reasons to use nonviolent strategies. But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics – by a long way.

Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

…all Students, Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and environmentalists have to do to truly force change for the climate crisis have to do is gain a mere 3.5% who are willing to commit to peaceful civil disobedience and the state is forced to change.

We. Must. Not. Give. Up.

This is the time to push and fight. Once we hit 3.5%, the State is forced to change, don’t let the detractors inject you with apathy and impotence. We are far stronger than we know.


  1. with a climate strike on Friday and a teachers strike on Monday McDonald’s will be busy

    • Cynic

      Follow the leadership of the children Trevor

      If nothing else, they may save your property values

      If you’re living in a coastal property it may be too late. Insurance companies are either pulling out of offering house insurance or ramping up premiums to unpayable levels ( a de facto retreat from insuring coastal properties)

      That’s just the beginning

      It’ll get worse before it get’s better, if at all

  2. Climate change must be an election issue.

    Because it does not contain one single measure to achieve its emissions targets.Now that the fanfare over the Zero Carbon Act has died down, to never to be mentioned again by anyone Especially in 2020 electioneering.

    It might pay to remember what this nothing will cost us.

    New Scientist

    Sea level rise could hit 2 metres by 2100 – much worse than feared

    ….Such big sea level rises so soon would lead to nightmarish impacts, says Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol. “If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable.”

    But it is not all bad news.

    …The risk of a disastrous 2 metre sea level rise can still be avoided if emissions are cut quickly enough, says Bamber. “We can make some choices but we have to make them very soon.

    There we have it. We must act now.

    As the forgettable Zero Carbon Act rapidly disappears in the political rear view mirror. This is our last chance to enact some serious emissions reductions measures and turn them into an election issue. 

    Kudos our young people trying to drag the issue of climate change back into the political arena from the tomb where the Zero Carbon Act has sent it.

    • The Rising Tide with Antonio Reid- a very ominous future awaits us
      NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projecting a sea level rise of 6-10 feet by the end of the century given the current emissions trajectory. Encroaching sea levels are beginning to change the shape of coast lines across the world. Our cities are increasingly being swallowed the rising of the sea. What does this mean for you and your family? What can be done? And how long do we have? Find out on Environmental Coffee Houses’s The Rising Tide with Antonio Reid.

      Every 1ppm of CO2 increase = an eventual 1foot of sea level rise.

      UC Irvine professor Eric Rignot is featured in this Emmy-winning HBO series VICE where he discusses his findings of Antarctica’s melting ice sheets and the global impact of sea level rise. He told VICE founder and producer Shane Smith that glaciers in West Antarctica’s Amudsen Sea have “passed the point of no return” and their disappearance could trigger the collapse of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet, which could raise global sea levels by up to five meters – or 15 feet. Such an event could severely submerge the world’s heavily populated coastal areas, and force us to redraw the world map as we know it

      • Our Rising Oceans (VICE on HBO: Season 3, Episode 1)
        Our oceans are rising. With human use of hydrocarbons skyrocketing, waters around the globe are getting hotter and, now, this warm sub-surface water is washing into Antarctica’s massive western glaciers causing the glaciers to retreat and break off. Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its freshwater, so if even a small fraction of the ice sheet in Antarctica melts, the resulting sea level rise will completely remap the world as we know it – and it is already happening. In the last decade, some of the most significant glaciers here have tripled their melt rate. VICE founder Shane Smith travels to the bottom of the world to investigate the instability of the West Antarctic ice sheet and to see first hand how the continent is melting — and VICE follows the rising oceans to Bangladesh for a glimpse into the world’s underwater future. From the UN Climate conference to the People’s Climate March to the forces that deny the science of global climate change, this special extended episode covers all sides of the issue and all corners of the globe, ending with a special interview with Vice President Joe Biden.

    • Our young people are acting like principled adults.

      Our principled adults are acting like nasty spoilt children.

      As part of the coalition government, the Green MPs have delivered us up the Zero Carbon Act. A reading of the Act reveals that it has not one single measure to cut GHG emissions, nor any measures at all to keep to the targets set out in it.

      I defy anyone to say that it does.

      Setting out targets is good, but with no measures to achieve them targets are meaningless.

      I could set a target to be a millionaire in ten years.

      I could even set down intermediate targets, that to reach my goal I will need to meet a target of a $100,000 a year.


      To give myself further excuse not to implement any measures to achieve my target, I could push my millionaire target out to thirty years from now, so that no one can really check whether I achieve it or not.

      I defy anyone, who after reading the Zero Carbon Act was to conclude, other than that, the Zero Carbon Act is a corrupt attempt to put off doing anything about climate change in the here and now.

      For some time now, myself and other climate activists have been lobbying Green Party MPs to raise in parliament repealing the Anadarko Amendment. We have also been lobbying them to raise in parliament repealing the ban on raising climate change in planning consent hearings as grounds for declining consent for new coal mines, fracking operations. A law which makes it illegal to object to any objections based on climate change grounds to any fossil fuel project.

      Our efforts have met a brick wall.

      No matter which Green MP we  contacted, the Party Line came down, “We will not do anything on these two issues, because we are putting all our efforts into getting the Zero Carbon Bill passed.

      Now the time has come when the Green MPs  and Green Party members must ask themselves whether their Party’s refusal to take any action in parliament to repeal these two pieces of iniquitous legislation was worth it.

      Is this the limit of the Green Party MP’s efforts in parliament?

      Will the Greens in the coalition government continue to refuse to try and repeal the Anadarko amendment and the immoral ban on raising climate change as an objection to a new coal mine?

      Is this really it?

      The Green Party need to hang their collective heads in shame.

      • Now that the Zero Carbon Act is pretty much behind us, the Green Party MPs can now get down to some serious lobbying for some meaningful climate legislation.

        Climate change: Pacific Islanders feel ‘scared’ and ‘powerless’ as rising seas threaten homes

        …United Nations Secretary General António Gutteres’ recent comments mirrored Bong’s ideals.

        On a recent trip to Fiji to discuss the issue of climate change in the Pacific Islands, Gutteres explained, governments around the world needed to do more to help the Pacific nations who are “on the frontline of climate change”.

        “My messages to governments around the world from the Pacific are clear; first, shift taxes from salaries to carbon. Tax pollution, not people.

        “Second, stop subsidising fossil fuels. Taxpayer money should not be used to boost hurricanes, spread drought and heatwaves, melt glaciers, and bleach corals.

        “Third, stop building new coal plants by 2020.”

        Will the Greens be putting any of the General Secretary’s suggestions into the ballot, and lobby and fight for them inside the coalition?

        The most pertinent being the last. ‘Stop building new coal plants’.

        This is something that the Pacific Forum nations have specifically asked of us.

        Meanwhile the biggest current coal plant is being built at Rotowaro Huntly. This huge new coal mine must be stopped.

        Will the Green Party answer the Pacific Forum’s call, or will James Shaw discipline any Green MP who dares break ranks to put a members bill in the ballot calling on the coalition to ban new coal mines?

        Pacific islands call for global ban on new coal mines

        The call to stop building coal mines was issued during the third meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Suva, Fiji, on 2-4 September. As part of the Suva declaration, island nations said they want to increase local research and innovation efforts to contribute their knowledge to the global transition to low-carbon technologies.

        According to reports quoted by the environmental campaigning organisation Greenpeace, seven nations, including Kiribati in the Central Pacific, pushed for an immediate moratorium on coal mine construction at the Fiji meeting.

  3. ‘The next climate strike by students is this Friday’

    We look forward to a report of a substantial increase in the number participating.

    • Well, I was on the bus yesterday, here in Auckland, and hears some young students talk about climate change, which appears to be a somewhat important and now discussed topic in their studies at school, at least.

      So, perhaps, there is a tiny wee bit of hope for us.

      But students will realise some conflicts with their beliefs, when they look at their own consumerist behaviour and the many clothes, gadgets and so forth, they desire and use daily, paid for by their parents, or through a bit of money they may earn themselves.

      Are they informed about what it means what they demand?

      • Marc you raise the point about the consumerism of the young people but that really isn’t the issue. The issue is their passion for change, their desire to do something about it and actually doing something about it. Furthermore, consumerism is not just a young person behaviour issue. It behoves all of us to look at what we are doing.

        The system tries to knock the students back again and again and they get criticised and restricted even by their own school principals and senior teachers but isn’t it strange that the same schools allow their students to attend public parades for sports teams who win a competition. It seems to me that these school principals and senior teachers and the system insult the intelligence of their own students and expect them not to have minds of their own – that all they are good for is waving flags at a sports team. Yet, the teachers then go out on strike demanding better pay conditions and I support them for doing that but they cannot at the same time turn around and say that the students should not be marching for an equally just cause which is going to affect all of us and future generations.

        The vitriol of the nay-sayers of climate change is pathetic and indicative of unintelligent and uninformed minds. They should, but won’t, because they are so arrogant, take notice of what the young people are saying and doing. Leighton Smith and his, what I call, brain-dead and brain-washed followers have had their moment, as boring as it was. Time to move over now because no-one is listening to you. Time to listen to the young people.

        I support the students 100% and urge them to continue what they are doing, even if they do receive some sort of futile punishment. The support for them is growing exponentially.

  4. FFS, study the situation in the Philippines, and see what has come out of that ‘change’. They have nothing much short of a one man dictatorship now, with Duterte and his murderous cops and soldiers, killing thousands of drug use and dealing suspects.

    Human rights in the Philippines are a farce now, not enforceable in many cases. The country is ruled like one of mostly corrupt, elite dynasties.

    Yes, protestors may force change to a degree, eventually, but nothing is for certain, and any progress can swiftly be taken away again, and reversed, just see what state governments do in the US now, re abortion laws.

    And what has happened with the anti nuclear stance? We are busy cosying up to the US again.

    Look at how many humble improvements in social, environmental and labour policy were reversed again under John Key, and people did in sufficient numbers vote that man and his government in three times.

    • So true Marc, muddle nzers are in complete denial. It’s just the green party getting all alarmist and not at all believable bullshit, they will have none of it! The oldies again I’m afraid, just won’t be told anything that rocks the boat. Bring back National, steady as she goes, global warming is just a myth we’ll all be fine.

      • There are no winners on a largely uninhabitable planet, David.

        That’s why the school strike movement was instigated.

  5. The kids are going to become such a powerful political force. I’d love to see them form a climate change party for the 2023 election as they’d be completely immune to the neoliberal don’t-frighten-the-horses approach that is ruining the Green Party.

    I’m already thinking there is no point voting for the Greens any more so clearing them out of parliament to create room for a new movement is a necessity. Normally new movements take time to grow but the urgency around this issue could seriously change all that.

    • That worked out well in Australia didn’t it?

      That 3.5% (echo chamber) could also very well backfire drastically

      • So, if 3.5% became the new threshold for a party vote to enter parliament. And say the voting age was to become 15. Would there be an upper age limit for the New Grween Deal party or whatever they want to call themselves this week? 18 or 20 years old max?

  6. If 3.5% is the number required to effect change, shouldn’t that be the magic number that gets a small party into parliament?

  7. Idelistic idiots who have no clue and clout to deal with the corporations that have vested interests, we get nowhere, you have to become a climate change WARRIOR, a guerilla fighter, and sabotage the fossil fuel industry, all else is weak, useless talk and BS.

    Once you do that you will be classified as a ‘terrorist’ and charged and locked up.

    Capitalism, corporations and the complicit shit governments rule, people are individual idiots, some compliant, others hopeless dreamers, NOT fighters.

  8. I would like to see public demonstrations held against the punitive and peevish and spiteful new charges against Julian Assange the Americans have dreamed up which carry a sentence of 175 behind bars …

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged with violating US ……/wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-charged-with-violating-us…

  9. A global Strike4Climate for people of all ages is planned for Sept 20th. Details will appear on Greta Thunberg’s Twitter feed nearer the time.

  10. Wrong argument. No capitalist state will be pressured to stop climate change in time. Because the state represents the capitalist ruling class and it will not invest in solutions to climate change unless they are profitable. That is the whole problem.

    Capitalist profit = climate catastrophe. None of the cases cited of revolutions created by 3.5% of the population mobilised were actual revolutions. They are regime changes or merely what is meant by the phrase “the circulation of elites”.

    Revolutions means a new class comes to power and that takes an armed revolution based on the support of the majority of working people capable of defeated the state forces and paramilitaries including fascist gangs.

    It is magical thinking to argue that the state that represents the capitalist class has an interest in the long term survival of humanity when its concerns are this years profit line.

    Fortunately, the XR movement is already signalling that climate solutions need emergency declarations and general strikes. This will put to the test within months the reformist delusions about pressuring the state.

    This experience will then vindicate the social science of revolutions which since the Paris Commune of 1871 has declared that only the overthrow of the capitalist state will put the working majority into power and make a collective, socialist, rational and civilised solution possible.

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