Climate campaign issues 'wake-up call' to world leaders

A A A

George Bush, Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac are in bed, fast asleep. All around them the evidence of climate change is clear and pressing but nothing can rouse the world leaders from their slumber.

"Global warming is here, but our leaders just won't wake up," says a voice. "Now you can sound the alarm. Go to avaaz.org to send your leader a wake-up call."

These adverts, broadcast this week in Paris, Berlin, Washington and Delhi, represent the opening salvo of a new movement of online activists that already claims to have almost 900,000 members in 198 countries.

Their rather modest aim is to change the world by forming a grassroots organisation with a global reach that can campaign on issues ranging from climate change to Aids in Africa.

"We have been inspired by watching those moments of global consciousness such as the aftermath of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war," said Ricken Patel, one of the founders of Avaaz, which means "voice" in several Asian languages. "We are trying to build that sort of infrastructure online and to reduce the gap between the world people want and the world we have."

The adverts - timed to coincide with meetings being held in Germany to set the agenda for this summer's G8 meeting in Heiligendamm - are the start of an effort to build the sort of global activism that could genuinely wield influence

The organisers believe that email and letter writing campaigns on a global scale can push governments to act and that its activists can exchange information through the internet and by other instant means such as text messaging.

"Climate change is a pretty classic example of a global problem that requires a global solution," said David Madden, another of Avaaz's founders and an activist previously involved in the Australian group GetUp.org.au.

"We are asking people to send world leaders a wake-up call. The post-2012 stage of Kyoto is too important to be left to bureaucrats. World leaders need to get down to business."

Can such lofty aims succeed? The organisers of Avaaz were inspired by the success of the progressive US group MoveOn, which was formed during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. Its political action committee has raised funds for and supported scores of political candidates, most recently more than a dozen Democrats in the mid-term elections last November.

Among the successful candidates backed by MoveOn was Patrick Murphy, a former US soldier who won in Pennsylvania.

Eli Pariser, founder of MoveOn and one of the directors of Avaaz, told the Personal Democracy Forum website: "We think this model - which in the US has brought three million folks into the political process, developed a new small-donor base for Democratic candidates, and helped win a number of key elections, can have an exciting impact worldwide."

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003