Averting Climate Catastrophe: Extinction Rebellion, Business and People Power


Averting Climate Catastrophe: Extinction Rebellion, Business and People Power

B117 theatre
Glyn Davis Building (Melbourne School of Design)
Masson Road


We have a brief window in which to act on climate change, and to do so with enough force, commitment and ambition to achieve a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy. But how might such a fundamental shift – from business as usual to transformative change – be achieved?

Part of the answer may lie in events in London in April, where, under the banner of the Extinction Rebellion, thousands of people committed acts of civil disobedience, seriously disrupting the capital for 10 days. Media attention to climate change soared and a climate emergency motion was passed by Parliament.

This public lecture examines Extinction Rebellion’s strategy, its emphasis on non-violent civil disobedience and its impact before asking: what, beyond grassroots politics, would a transformational movement built around climate change involve? Must pressure be brought to bear on recalcitrant governments from many quarters: not just from grassroots activist groups but from business, financial markets, scientists, school children, faith groups, cities and multiple others?

Perhaps, as groups like Extinction Rebellion gain momentum, and join with others, a tipping point will be reached, generating rapid and far reaching changes across the economic and social system. If so, then bottom up action driven by civil society, in tandem with its allies and as part of a broader web of influence, may yet be the catalyst for rapid, radical and constructive action by nation states.


  • Professor Neil Gunningham
    Professor Neil Gunningham, Lawyer and social scientist