Framing climate activism in the Netherlands: uniting voices, igniting change

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With the release of the IPCC special report in 2018, an increase in international climate activism occurred. In the Netherlands as well an increase in activism has been observed in this period. There is a great number of environmental organizations active in the Netherlands, with each their own strategy to mobilize citizens into collective action against the problem of climate change. Actions by themselves are however not always successful in engaging the public and in achieving change in policies. In addition, the great variety in organizations can create difficulties in developing a collective identity for action. This study explores the different climate action strategies in the Netherlands, and how these strategies are framed to be successful or unsuccessful by different environmental organizations. Based on the research question; ‘How do different environmental organizations frame different forms of climate activism in the Netherlands?’, a recommendation for environmental organizations is made. By means of a comparative case study with a maximum variation sample, the cases of Extinction Rebellion, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace, Klimaatcoalitie, Natuurmonumenten, Scientists for Future, Scientist Rebellion, and Urgenda are compared. Data was collected by means of in-depth semi-structured interviews with each of the organizations and a omplementary document analysis. By using the concept of framing as an analytical lens to analyse the collected data, the choices behind the strategies that they adopt are uncovered. The study Reveals that organizations make choices for adopting certain climate actions into their strategy depending on their problem statement, their organizational capacity, and the image that they want to create. The forms of activism are categorized into 3 different categories: protest and persuasive actions, intervening actions, and civil disobeying actions. The strategy which has been experienced to be the most effective is combining multiple forms of action, a finding which confirms existing literature. However, this research reveals by specifically studying the backgrounds of environmental organizations with divergent characteristics, that there are limiting factors in pursuing this strategy. It also shows that these limiting factors can be overcome by collaborating with other organizations. By looking at the problem statements of environmental organizations, similarities between target groups and goals can be uncovered. These similarities can form the ground for strategic collaborations. Collaborations have shown promising results when it comes to the effectiveness of a climate action strategy. This is because of increases in media attention and increasing in citizen participation in collective action, which increases social pressure on targeted authority systems.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen