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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Development of the CPRS - Part Two: Social Movements

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Social movements are a broad changing in general public opinion that can influence government policy. A number of campaigns have changed the way people around the world view what they consume and dispose of, and how much power and pollution is attributed with day-to-day activities and purchases. The Victorian Government’s black balloon campaign is an example of such a campaign. This campaign measures carbon emissions in ‘black balloons,’ each representing 50 grams of greenhouse gas, allowing people to visualise the impact of certain high power-use actions on the environment, aided especially by the associated television advertisements ( This awareness of household ‘carbon footprints’ naturally extends to the source of the black balloons – the power stations. Increasing media attention on unclean energy sources (the Four Corners documentary ‘Heat on the Hill’ is a prime example of this) directs people to demand that every part of society should do its bit, not just households.

This social movement helped Kevin Rudd and his government gain power, with his promise to ratify the Kyoto agreement seen by many as a step forward (,,

Earth Hour is another popular “green” movement. Earth Hour achieves wide television and advertising coverage, including stories on every free-to-air channel and pictures on Australia Post stamps. Another broad social movement is youth taking action against climate change, with the recent appearance of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition being a prime example ( Groups like this focus on getting young people to take actions such as demonstrations, to attempt to influence government policy.

Also supporting the public’s drive for climate change action is a wide range of music stars/groups (such as Bono, or Radiohead who offset emissions from their concerts and takes environmental protection measures for both concerts and merchandise,, other celebrities such as Sir David Attenborough ( and well-known or powerful people like Al Gore( driving for action and taking action themselves. This adds support for public social change, which in turn pressures the government at election time.

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