Paris Has Shown Us That the Green Revolution Can Succeed – We Must Choose How It Succeeds

by Simon

The following is taken from here:

Revolutions Happen in 2 Ways

Quickly and (often) violently. Like the recent Arab Spring uprising. It starts with intense hardship: political, military or food & water.

Slowly and (often) peacefully. Like the revolution for gay marriage or gender equality in the workplace.

The 1st happens when no options are left, except to fight and risk your life.

The 2nd is when there are choices. But this type of revolution is harder to perceive. No bombs explode or despots are forcefully removed. It happens slowly, glacially even.

Green Revolution

Our 21st Green Revolution is the 2nd type (for now). That's what the recent climate talks in Paris have shown. Meaningful change will happen in the years and decades.

If our green revolution doesn't succeed at this pace - and governments don't keep to their Paris deal, the likelihood of resource scarcity increases, bloody revolutions, and mass migrations are more likely to happen.

One message that the Paris climate deal sends out is "People of the world, you carry on your high carbon lives and wait to be given green alternatives by us, your governments, before trading in your current lifestyles."

What happens if nations miss their targets and don't allow our lifestyles to become greener? Promises have been made and broken in the past - why is it going to be different this time? I have heavy doubts about that it will be. Governments alone won't be enough.

Our green, low carbon revolution needs to come from the 'bottom up', from the people. It needs to keep governments accountable and motivated towards a low-carbon future, in order to meet our 1.5 degrees target in 2050.

More people want to join this revolution, but the know-how isn't there

Polling People

Recently, I polled 385 people who were likely to be green in the future.

(This was not an official piece of research. It was me with Google Forms trying to find out about green living for free. 1/4 were my friends and 3/4 from Climate Change Guide, who I am extremely grateful for helping with my poll).

Here's what I found:

1. 87% believe that it is up to them to play their part in solving climate change

2. 83.5% intend to be much greener

3. It is up to all of us to make a difference

4. More information, more easy-to-find and affordable green products are needed

Four Types of People

When asked 'what is holding you back from being more 'green'?' there were 4 types of people that emerged:

Revolution-avoiders: They are not willing. They think "It's not up to me. It's too time-consuming. Too much sacrifice. Green is not glamorous. It's easy to ignore. Modern-day consumerism is too alluring. Green is not convenient. I'll carry on as normal."

Revolution-phobes: They are more wanting to be greener but struggle. They think "I feel afraid. Too overwhelmed. Efforts feel hopeless. I feel alone doing it. Poor leadership. I could be more 'green' if given an incredibly simple path to it."

Revolution-prone: They are on the 'green' journey, prone do searching for green things to do, but are not doing as much as they want. They think:"too much confusing information. It's expensive to be green. I can't find green products easily. There's poor low-carbon infrastructure in my country. How much should I do?"

Revolution-actives: They are well on their 'green' journey. They revel in the complexity of working out how to be low carbon. They lead the way with action and words. They think "I am green."

In reality 'revolution-avoiders' is an audience that will only change when enforced by regulation and legislation. And is not a group of people that I believe that we should waste much time on. If the will's not there, why try and drag them kicking and screaming?

'Revolution-phobes' and 'Revolution-prones' need help that is simpler and inspiration from experts. We need these types of people on board more to make the pace of revolution quicker, more popular, and hold governments accountable.


I believe that the major barrier is that 'living green' is too academic for everyone except the most willing

In researching for this blog, I have read a lot. It's astonishing how confusing, dense and impractical advice can be. Practical and simple help for the everyday person wanting to be greener is hard to action, let alone to make a habit.

The worst offending texts are the "10/20/50/100 top-tips"-style articles about living a greener lifestyle, that seem more intent on achieving page view numbers than anything else. Many books are full of goodwill but can be pretty turgid and overly academic. Carbon footprint calculators are hard work too. Only 'revolution-actives' are willing to give up the time to wade through it, makes sense of it and then apply it habitually.

This leaves a worrying gap. A gap between the governments and 'green' experts and the everyday person eagerly wanting to do more.

Bridge the Gap

We have work to do to bridge this gap.

Our green revolution needs 2 more actions to bridge the gap:

Better, simpler and a lot more aspirational content. Breaking down what to do, in what order and do it sexily.

Hero the proven green brands. We need to connect people with brands much better - make them more physically and mentally available in our lives. Let's find out what to use, get to these brands quickly, and use them again and again.

If we start to address these 2 areas, we'll be going a long way to building our revolution and the dream of the Paris Climate might be achieved more peacefully.


Profile of those who responded. They were 24-50s, often female and from the US and UK.

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